Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Environment and Communications References Committee
Threat of marine plastic pollution in Australia

BARDEN, Ms Tanya, Director, Economics and Sustainability, Australian Food and Grocery Council

DAWSON, Mr Gary, Chief Executive Officer, Australian Food and Grocery Council

McNAMARA, Ms Elizabeth Therese, Group Head of Public Affairs and Communications, Coca-Cola Amatil Ltd

MAGUIRE, Mr Jeffrey Robert, Director, Statewide Recycling Pty Ltd

PARKER, Mr Geoff, Chief Executive Officer, Australian Beverages Council

Committee met at 08:02

CHAIR ( Senator Urquhart ): I declare open this public hearing of the Senate Environment and Communications References Committee for its inquiry into the threat of marine plastic pollution in Australia. This is a public hearing and a Hansard transcript of the proceedings is being made.

Before the committee starts taking evidence, I remind all witnesses that in giving evidence to the committee they are protected by parliamentary privilege. It is unlawful for anyone to threaten or disadvantage a witness on account of evidence given to a committee, and such action may be treated by the Senate as a contempt. It is also a contempt to give false or misleading evidence to a committee. The committee prefers that all efforts be given in public, but under the Senate's resolutions witnesses have the right to request to be heard in private session. It is important that witnesses give the committee notice if they intend to ask to give evidence in camera. In addition, if the committee has reason to believe that evidence about to be given may reflect adversely on a person, the committee may also direct that the evidence be heard in private session. If a witness objects to answering a question. the witness should state the ground upon which the objection is taken and the committee will determine whether it will insist on an answer, having regard to the ground which is claimed. If the committee determines to insist on an answer, a witness may request that the answer be given in camera. Such a request may be made at any other time.

On behalf the committee, I would like to thank all those who have made submissions and sent representatives here today for their cooperation in this inquiry. Information on parliamentary privilege and protection of witnesses and evidence has been provided for you. I now invite each organisation to make a short opening statement. At the conclusion of your remarks, I will invite members of the committee to put questions to you.

Mr Dawson : Thank you very much for the opportunity to present today. We have put in a submission, as you know. We would like to make a few brief opening comments. The Australian Food and Grocery Council is the peak industry body for fast-moving consumer goods manufacturers and suppliers in Australia, that is, companies that are manufacturing or supplying food, beverage and non-food grocery items, typically into the major supermarkets. They sit between the farm gate and the retailer. We do not work on behalf of the farmers or the retailers, but anyone in between. It is a broad range of members—about 200 member companies—covering a range of categories: dairy processors, meat processors, confectioners, biscuit makers, beverage companies—a whole range of companies.

As an industry, I think we have a strong track record in delivering practical initiatives in the area of litter reduction and recycling, as a subset of a broader range of programs in the area of environmental sustainability and sustainable practices. With regard to the terms of reference of this committee, in terms of marine pollution, an example of work currently underway is a significant research project the industry is doing with CSIRO, specifically on the pathways of litter from land to marine, which is particularly relevant to this committee. We have mentioned that in our submission.

The final point I would make is the topical one at the moment, with regard to the process underway in New South Wales around the development of a CDS system for New South Wales. It is a process that we have engaged very constructively in over the last year. The Premier of New South Wales has set a challenge. He wants a 40 per cent reduction in litter by 2020. He has set criteria for a CDS, that it should be cost effective—

CHAIR: Sorry, Mr Dawson, are you responding to the Thirst for Good campaign?

Mr Dawson : Yes, that is the proposal we have put forward. It is particularly targeted at those five criteria the New South Wales government set, that it be cost effective, use financial incentives, target away-from-home consumption, not undermine kerbside, and use reverse vending machines and modern technology. Over the last year, that Thirst for Good package has been developed to specifically target that. We believe it can deliver that target that New South Wales has set faster than any alternative scheme. It is an example of very constructive engagement on this broader challenge around litter and recycling, which contributes to the issues around marine pollution that the committee is focused on. I will not go through all the details of Thirst for Good; it is in our submission, but obviously we are happy to take questions on it.

Mr Parker : Thank you to the committee for the opportunity for us to be able to represent the non-alcoholic beverages industry here today. Unfortunately, we were not able to put in a submission, so if it is okay with the chair, I will read a short prepared statement that gives a bit of an overview of our position on the issue.

CHAIR: Mr Parker, are you able to provide that to the committee as well?

Mr Parker : Absolutely. The Beverages Council represents a proud and dynamic non-alcoholic beverage industry that supports over 46,000 full-time jobs across the country, contributes almost $7 billion in value-add to the national economy and pays over $1.2 billion in taxes along the supply chain. The vast majority of manufacturers in the country are micro, small and medium-sized businesses, and our membership represents over 95 per cent of the non-alcoholic beverage production volume in the country.

It is also an industry that takes issues like recycling and litter seriously. Our members have contributed to hundreds of programs across their communities, both individually and as part of more formal groups nationally, like the packaging covenant. Our members have also introduced numerous packaging and process innovations that have significantly reduced the environmental footprint of those businesses. Indeed, some of our members are best in class globally when it comes to these initiatives. The industry recognises that marine plastic pollution is a complex and very real problem and therefore needs an informed and considered approach to any solutions framework. Ingestion and entanglement significantly impact on our marine life and evidence based solutions to both prevent future pollution, whilst addressing existing marine plastic pollution must be considered. Research clearly points to the biggest impact on future marine plastic pollution is stopping plastics from entering the marine ecosystem from land based sources. Research, like that conducted by the CSIRO, clearly shows higher-density areas being the main source of plastic and other pollution entering the water. Whilst marine plastic pollution can travel significant distances, its origins are concentrated.

The industry supports any solutions framework embracing the key tenants of being evidence based cost-effective, efficient and collaborative across governments, industry, consumer groups and community groups. Beverage containers make up a part of the waste stream and any program to stop plastics entering the marine ecosystem must address not only this source of plastic but also others. To focus just on one part of the waste stream is antiquated, inefficient and ineffective. The non-alcoholic beverage industry view is that action must first start with identifying the exact nature of the problem, targeting strategies to where they are most needed and addressing consumer behaviour. This last piece must include initiatives like education programs, greater penalty enforcement, targeting coordination of hotspots and more away-from-home recycling options of unique, innovative and tailored models for reducing litter and increasing recycling, like the industry-funded Thirst for Good scheme in New South Wales, which achieves these objectives.

In 2016, we must be beyond litter and recycling models which are nearly 50 years old. Ultimately, all beverage containers are 100 per cent recyclable, so our ultimate aim must be for consumers to have the ability and willingness to put the right container in the right bin. Thank you.

Ms McNamara : Coca-Cola Amatil is an Australian listed company. We manufacture, package and distribute a variety of brands within Australia, as well as five other countries within the region. The brands include those that are owned by our partner and major shareholder The Coca-Cola Company like Coca-Cola, Sprite, Fanta, Pump and POWERADE. We also own some of our own iconic Australian brands including Kirks, Mount Franklin, Deep Spring and SPC Ardmona. Complementing this portfolio is a premium alcohol beer, cider and a coffee brand portfolio.

Coca-Cola Amatil contributes around $3 billion to the Australian GDP and of our 14,000 employees approximately 4,000 are based in Australia and work predominantly at our production facilities and warehouses across the country. As a leading manufacturer, Coca-Cola Amatil understands and takes very seriously our responsibility to keep the environment clean. We operate responsibly in all we do to minimise the impact and that includes minimising our impact on climate change through a focus on energy reduction, leading in packaging innovation and recycling and the efficient use of water.

Over the past decade we have implemented many new technologies and initiatives to reduce our environmental impact through the supply chain across the total package life cycle. This has included some initiatives that we included recently in our submission like continual lightweighting of PET packages since 1997. This has delivered a 33 per cent reduction in small PET, a 37 per cent reduction in POWERADE PET and a 42 per cent reduction in 600 millilitre PET. We have also increased the use of recycled content in PET packages. We now have around 50 per cent recycled content in the majority of our containers. We have also installed and made significant investments in state-of-the-art blow-fill technology, which has resulted in an annual reduction of 9,000 tons of resin, reduced truck movements and eliminated truck movements for empty bottles. This consistent focus on and investment in innovation has meant that we have been able to minimise and remove materials from our packaging and drive recycling and reuse.

As you know, we have one of our representatives from our wholly-owned subsidiary Statewide here with us today. We are the operator of a refund container deposit scheme in both South Australia and the Northern Territory through Statewide. We therefore have 40 years experience operating the scheme in South Australia, and that experience has taught us that while costs and inefficiencies can be minimised in container deposit schemes they cannot be eliminated and they are inherent to a refund CDS.

Talking specifically about the New South Wales CDS that is being debated at the moment, I think in New South Wales there is a very high litter rate collection and recycling. Ninety-six per cent of beverage containers are already collected through existing systems. As an industry and as a significant member of that industry within New South Wales, we want to help governments design solutions that are fit for purpose. We believe that we should have a system that is focused on capturing that last four per cent of beverage containers rather than duplicating a system and adding costs to the collection of that 96 per cent of containers.

The Thirst for Good proposal that Gary has mentioned is supported by Coca-Cola Amatil as one of the industry members. We believe that it is fit for purpose for New South Wales in 2016. We think that it is flexible, will deliver on the commitment that the New South Wales government has made and is right for now, without duplicating the kerbside infrastructure that already exists and is very flexible within New South Wales.

CHAIR: I might kick off with a couple of questions. If I can just refer to the submission from the Food and Grocery Council: in your submission you talk about 'inadequate, comprehensive data on the type, sources and effect of marine pollution'. You talk about the CSIRO investigation that is happening. Where do you think the knowledge gaps are?

Mr Dawson : I think it has been interesting to look at some of the evidence that has already been presented to this committee. The message that comes through is that there is inadequate knowledge about the source of the litter and the pathways of how it ends up where it ends up in the marine space. It is a key reason why the industry is working with the CSIRO on the current research project that is aimed at getting a better handle on that issue.

CHAIR: As a representative of industry, where do you believe the knowledge gaps are?

Mr Dawson : We have got a pretty good handle on the litter and recycling of packaging on land. What is less clear is the source of the litter that ends up in the marine space and sometimes on the beach. The key part of the debate in New South Wales, for example, is: what is the best strategy to deal with that? I do not know if Tanya, who is more of an expert than me, wants to add to that.

Ms Barden : In particular, it is about trying to understand whether that source is domestic and how much of it is international. As some people have indicated in previous hearings, potentially about 50 per cent could be from international sources, in which case there are limits as to what Australian policy can have an influence over. I think we need to understand domestic versus international sources and then pathways for the domestic sources into the marine environment.

CHAIR: In that context, given that the source seems to be the issue—you are saying we do not know where it is actually coming from—is the industry willing to commit today to more funding to support research, given that you have said that we do not know enough about where it comes from?

Ms Barden : I wear another hat as chair of the Australian Packaging Covenant, and through the covenant it has committed a couple of hundred thousand dollars towards a study with CSIRO, and that will be completed in the next couple of months. That is a significant research piece. It is examining the pathways of litter into the marine environment, so we really need to—

CHAIR: That is in May?

Ms Barden : That is right. From May to June the results from that will be available, and I am happy to make those available to the committee. I think we really need to wait and see what the results of that study show to see whether there are other areas that require further investigation.

CHAIR: A research team has raised issues in relation to the potential bioaccumulations of plastics up the food chain. We have heard a little bit about this throughout the hearings, but we have not been able to find a lot of evidence at the moment, particularly in the form of toxins leaching into the flesh of seafood that we ultimately eat. Are you aware of any research that can guarantee that this is not occurring?

Ms Barden : No, no research that it is not occurring but also no research that it is definitively occurring. I have participated in the microbeads inquiry with the New South Wales government. Dr Browne, who I know appeared before the committee, is a pre-eminent expert in that area. From the research I have seen, there are concerns, but I have not seen any definitive evidence either way.

CHAIR: Do you believe that it should be the responsibility of taxpayers and the community to shoulder the costs of cleaning up marine plastics from beverage containers that are produced by your industry? Where does the ultimate responsibility lie?

Mr Dawson : We have seen it as a mutual responsibility, essentially—a shared responsibility—and that is implicit in the product stewardship approach that the industry has taken. That involves companies and industry bodies working with governments and working with community groups and so on to address the problem. We think that is the most effective approach, when you have that collaborative approach, if I can put it that way. When the source of the material and some of the pathways are unclear, then the sensible approach is to, if you like, cast the net broadly and take a shared responsibility approach. I think that underpins the work that industry is doing, which is participating in the initiatives that are underway.

Ms Barden : Just to add to that, it is well-known that to be effective in the litter space you need to be really active across a number of areas: cleaning up existing litter, because litter acts as a magnet and will attract other sources of litter; education to try and get behaviour change amongst consumers; enforcement of littering behaviour when it occurs; and infrastructure. They are well-regarded areas that need to be acted upon. Victoria has been very successful for a long time in having a very comprehensive approach to litter that covers all of those areas. What industry has tried to do through the Thirst for Good proposal is really target efforts that cover all of those—so, for example, putting money towards litter collectors that clean up all sources of litter rather than just beverage containers. Under a CDS, if only beverage containers are cleaned up, then remaining litter could still be a magnet for attracting other types of litter, including beverage containers. Then efforts could be put towards those other three areas I spoke of. I guess that goes to your point about responsibility: it really does need to be consumers, governments, community and industry all working together to solve what is actually quite a complex problem.

CHAIR: What about industry though? I note the Coca-Cola submission, and you have just outlined where you have reduced the amount of PET and a whole range of things to try and reduce litter and to try and reduce the effects of what happens at the end of the litter stream. But what sort of research is industry doing and what responsibility is it taking to try and eradicate—if I can use that word—that type of container? We have heard throughout this inquiry about biodegradable and what that actually means. It almost means that it just breaks down into small pieces, which makes it worse. What is the industry actually doing to try and stop that? Rather than having everyone out there cleaning up everyone else's litter, what are you guys, as an industry, doing about trying to stop the litter at the source in terms of alternative options that you have got?

Mr Parker : Our manufacturers here in Australia are, as I mentioned in my opening address, world's-best class in a number of sustainable practices, and CCA is leading the way in that regard. Manufacturers here in Australia continually turn their attention overseas to see what is happening around innovative packaging solutions. The current main forms of packaging, being PET and aluminium cans, are best fit for purpose in regard to delivering a lot of products to consumers safely while maintaining the quality. There are certainly a number of different innovative packaging solutions out there around biodegradability; it is just that the cost-effectiveness of trying to replicate that across such a large volume, not just looking at the largest bottler but then looking across the whole industry—no other major market around the world has managed to find that solution as yet.

CHAIR: Should cost-effectiveness outweigh the threat that this is doing to the oceans and sea life?

Mr Parker : For businesses, cost-effectiveness needs to be a consideration. There have been a number of examples in the submissions around the innovation that manufacturers and brands here are taking. But, to round off my comments, I agree that it must be a shared responsibility around industry. That is evident in what the industry has supported across the packaging covenant, across hundreds and, dare I say, thousands, of programs around communities. It must be a shared responsibility of different tiers of government, consumer groups and also community groups. That was reflected in the CSIRO marine debris report, which showed that the councils that were tackling this issue most effectively had that collaborative approach, where they engaged with their constituents, implemented education programs, engaged with industry and had waste collection facilities in their amenity.

CHAIR: In terms of overseas, I understand that Germany has changed its policy so that manufacturers are responsible for waste that they produce until the end of its life cycle. Have Coca-Cola's or any of the other companies' processes and systems evolved in Germany in response to these changes?

Mr Maguire : The container deposit system in Germany is a collaborative effort between the retail industry and the beverage industry. It has been in place for many, many years, and it is very complex in terms of layer upon layer. The beverage industry and the retail industry play a leading role in running the CDS in Germany.

CHAIR: Coca-Cola has been accused of waging a ferocious legal and political campaign to prevent the spread of container deposit recycling outside of South Australia. How would you respond to that?

Ms McNamara : I would say that Coca-Cola Amatil and our partner, The Coca-Cola Company, have worked very collaboratively with the rest of industry, industry representatives and the New South Wales government. We have been part of putting together an industry solution. We support a CDS in South Australia and the Northern Territory, where it is fit for purpose. We do not believe a CDS in New South Wales in 2016 is fit for purpose. New South Wales has invested heavily in existing waste collection systems, and we believe that we need to introduce something that will complement that rather than cannibalise the kerbside. We have not waged a ferocious campaign. We have worked constructively, we have been part of the process and we want to be part of the solution for New South Wales.

Mr Dawson : The proposal that we have put forward in New South Wales is an industry proposal. We have got more than 20 member companies that have beverages as part of their product suite. The proposal has been signed off by the board. It has been circulated around the broader industry as an appropriate evidence based response, fit for purpose for New South Wales in 2016. I just make that point in addition to the earlier one.

Ms Barden : It is also an approach that has been supported by the waste and recycling industry in New South Wales, which does have significant concerns about the impact that a container deposit scheme has on existing recycling kerbside systems.

Senator WHISH-WILSON: It is interesting; I would have thought a High Court challenge against the Northern Territory government's container deposit scheme was a ferocious political campaign. But, putting that aside, I just wanted to dig a little bit deeper into the evidence that you gave that 96 per cent of litter was captured by recycling or garbage bins, and I note that is on page 2 of Coca-Cola's submission as well. Could you give us an estimate, just in New South Wales, of how many beverage containers are sold and consumed per annum?

Ms Barden : I think it is in the order of about four to 4½ billion containers. I will just confer with my colleague Jeff.

Mr Maguire : From my perspective, if we were to apply the scope of a South Australian CDS to New South Wales, it would be about 3½ billion. The New South Wales government has indicated about 4.2 billion, but I believe that goes beyond the scope that we currently see in South Australia to include wine bottles and, potentially, one-litre milk containers et cetera.

Senator WHISH-WILSON: Just to be clear: this is how many beverage containers are sold per annum in New South Wales?

Mr Maguire : The best estimate would be the state government's, and I think they had 4.2 billion in the discussion paper.

Senator WHISH-WILSON: So 96 per cent of that is captured. If four per cent of beverage containers are littered, we just assume that is four per cent of 4.4, 4.2 billion? Is that correct?

Mr Maguire : I think that is what appears in the discussion paper, yes.

Senator WHISH-WILSON: That will give the committee an idea of how many beverage containers are lying around. I understand that is four times the rate of plastic bags, which would make beverage containers the most littered product in the environment. Is that correct?

Ms Barden : By volume; but by number they are not the largest. By number, they are significantly smaller. Cigarette butts tend to be the largest by number.

Senator WHISH-WILSON: I would actually agree with that, having done lots of clean-ups over the years. Cigarette butts are a serious issue, as they are for the marine environment. But, by volume, beverage containers are the most littered product in the environment?

Ms Barden : In New South Wales that is the case. I cannot confirm the data for the other jurisdictions.

Senator WHISH-WILSON: Out of those 4.2 or 4.4 billion containers, can you give us as an estimate of how many are landfilled versus recycled?

Ms Barden : I would be happy to provide the committee with recycling data that is available. I do not have that figure to hand.

Senator WHISH-WILSON: Would it be a fair estimate that between 40 and 60 per cent of those captured bottles and cans are landfilled? Could you get back to the committee on whether that is a reasonable estimate.

Ms Barden : Will do.

Senator WHISH-WILSON: The $15 million that you are offering in New South Wales—I presume that is part of your Thirst for Good campaign?

Mr Dawson : Yes.

Senator WHISH-WILSON: Are you implying that you will match $15 million in every jurisdiction in Australia?

Mr Dawson : No. We have put that proposal together in response to the New South Wales process and the criteria that was set by the New South Wales Premier. Our point there is that there are particular challenges. It is a suite of measures that is really designed to address the situation in New South Wales. The other key point is that it is flexible. We have put forward a methodology that underpins the $15 million—five key initiatives that have been modelled and tested pretty extensively and that would address the challenge that has been set by the Premier.

State by state, there are significant differences, as you would probably be aware. Victoria, for example, has the lowest litter rate and the best recycling rates in the country and much greater numbers of bins per head and by area, and, not surprisingly, that shapes the Victorian government's views on this matter; it is quite different to other states. Thirst for Good is targeted at New South Wales. We are certainly happy to have the discussion with other states, but it has been developed in response to New South Wales.

Senator WHISH-WILSON: Based on your comment, would it be fair to say that you are only acting when you are threatened with regulation?

Mr Dawson : Sorry, I did not catch that.

Senator WHISH-WILSON: Would it be fair, then, to assume that you are only acting in this regard because you have been threatened with regulation? In the case of New South Wales, it is a potential container deposit scheme.

Mr Dawson : No, that is not correct, because the product stewardship approach goes back many years—decades—and it has consistently been one of shared responsibility of—

Senator WHISH-WILSON: And it is not working. We are having this inquiry because of the amount of litter that we are seeing. You have acknowledged it; we have all seen the evidence that has been provided to the committee. It is not just beverage containers; it is plastic bags, cigarette butts, micro-beads and all sorts of things. But the approach to preventing litter from getting to beaches and into waterways is not working. That is why we are having this inquiry. We are looking at what potential solutions we can put in place.

Mr Dawson : That is right. I would make two key points in response to that. You make the point, I think quite rightly, that litter is more than just beverage containers, and so we think any effective approach has to be broader than just beverage containers. Secondly, in the industry we understand the problem. We are in the consumer goods space. Our consumers expect action on this front. Within—

Senator WHISH-WILSON: Unfortunately, not all of them do. I can tell you, I have gone all around my state of Tasmania collecting beverage containers by the side of the road, including in our beautiful national parks. They are everywhere. So I do not think all your consumers actually do expect that—with all due respect.

Ms Barden : That is why we support a comprehensive approach that is across clean-up education, enforcement and infrastructure. We see that the program that industry has offered in New South Wales dovetails in nicely with the funding the New South Wales government has put into infrastructure and also the approach it is taking in its Don't be a Tosser campaign to make sure that there is enforcement and fining of people who do litter. It is about having a comprehensive approach that cuts across all those areas.

Senator WHISH-WILSON: We have comprehensive approaches already. You have mentioned that under the product stewardship scheme these measures go back for years, but they are not working.

Mr Dawson : I think the—

Senator WHISH-WILSON: They are certainly not working in my state or in other states that I have visited.

Mr Dawson : I think, though, that—

Senator WHISH-WILSON: It makes sense to me that, if you put a value on rubbish—on litter—

CHAIR: Senator Whish-Wilson—

Senator WHISH-WILSON: it no longer becomes rubbish. Let me finish, please.

CHAIR: Senator Whish-Wilson.

Senator WHISH-WILSON: Yes?

CHAIR: Mr Dawson is trying to answer the first part of your question.

Senator WHISH-WILSON: Sorry. It is a bit hard to hear over the phone.

CHAIR: If he could answer rather than you giving a statement, I think that would be helpful.

Mr Dawson : I just have one quick point. The counterfactual is: what would be the situation without things like the Do the Right Thing campaign, which is a long-running campaign subject to a lot of industry funding? Without those sorts of campaigns, pushing out recycling bins into shopping centres, airports, sporting venues and so on, which has been a big industry initiative, the problem would certainly be worse. These initiatives have had an impact—there is no doubt about that. Clearly, more can be done, and that is why we are engaged constructively in the process in New South Wales, with this committee and so forth. I do not think you should doubt the commitment across industry to find effective solutions.

Ms Barden : Can I just—

Senator WHISH-WILSON: I do not doubt that you have measures in place and that you would like to see results from those measures. What the committee has to consider is the opportunity costs of different approaches and the benefits of different approaches, and a container deposit scheme, where you simply put a value on rubbish and a value on litter, so it is worth something to someone, means it actually gets picked up. We know that the evidence in South Australia is compelling. You quoted CSIRO earlier, who have made some very strong comments about their data and what it showed in South Australia, which is why they have supported and called for a container deposit scheme. We have to consider these issues in relation to the other suite of measures that you are outlining. Do you accept that, in South Australia, the container deposit scheme has seen a very low rate of beverage-container litter compared to the rest of the country and a very high recycling rate?

Mr Dawson : The South Australian scheme was brought in in the 1970s, prior to kerbside recycling systems, so I think that does change the environment significantly. For example, Victoria, where there is a lower litter rate and a better recycling rate than South Australia without a CDS, have made it very clear that they are not interested in a CDS because they see it as duplicating and undermining their very successful kerbside system. The situation has changed since the CDS was brought in in South Australia.

Senator WHISH-WILSON: Wouldn't it complement kerbside recycling, like it does in South Australia?

Mr Maguire : The kerbside system in South Australia was introduced well after the CDS system in South Australia. My organisation only receives about 12 per cent of its recycled content from kerbside in South Australia because the CDS system has been there and has been entrenched in South Australia for a long time. If we were to introduce a CDS system in New South Wales, it would certainly cannibalise what is an existing low-cost system in kerbside, to a large extent.

Senator WHISH-WILSON: I am not sure what evidence you have to base that on. My understanding is that kerbside is for rubbish or litter—let's not call it rubbish or litter; it is the product that is consumed inside the house. What we are dealing with in a CDS is litter and rubbish that is out in parks and the environment and at sports events. Aren't they chalk and cheese? Or are you saying people are going to go stealing stuff out of people's wheelie bins?

Ms McNamara : What we have stated in the industry submission is that a refund CDS in New South Wales would result in behaviour that would divert beverage containers out of your kerbside recycling. If the incentive was there, as you say—if it is incentivising people to return the container—they will hold the container and return it directly rather than through the kerbside system. The CDS does not distinguish between beverage containers collected at home and beverage containers collected out of home, so it would actually result in cannibalisation of the existing kerbside system.

CHAIR: I would like to jump in here and ask: has anyone on the panel read the World Economic Forum report The new plastics economy—rethinking the future of plastics? No-one?

Ms Barden : No.

Mr Dawson : Sorry.

CHAIR: All right, I will not ask the questions. I was going to ask you some questions about that, but, if you have not read it, I cannot. Senator Whish-Wilson?

Senator WHISH-WILSON: I am still asking questions about kerbside recycling. I have been to visit the major recyclers like Veolia in Tasmania, and they tell me the single biggest cost to their kerbside recycling scheme in the state is broken glass which comes through the kerbside system; whereas, under a CDS, you do not get money unless it is a full glass bottle. So they are saying it would be a benefit to the kerbside system to have a CDS. Do you agree with that?

Mr Maguire : In talking to all of the waste collection companies, yes, they would all like to see glass come out of kerbside, but they would like to see all the plastic and aluminium stay in kerbside.

Senator WHISH-WILSON: If it actually leads to high recycling rates, whichever system is being used, and they can be complementary, then personally I do not see what the problem is—but that is just my view. Regarding product stewardship, do you accept any responsibility for the liability or the externality that is created by your litter, and do you try and value that?

Ms McNamara : I would say, from a Coca-Cola Amatil perspective, the fact that we have invested significantly and continue to innovate in relation to improving and reducing our impact from a packaging perspective, and the fact that we continue to work with, for instance, the New South Wales government to come up with a solution such as Thirst for Good that we would participate in as part of industry, demonstrates that we do accept our responsibility to be part of the solution.

Mr Dawson : I think the fact that there is a $15 million package on the table reflects the industry's commitment, and it is based around flexible options that are designed to meet the needs in New South Wales.

Senator WHISH-WILSON: Do you believe that $15 million equates to the liability, the externality, that is created by beverage litter in New South Wales, dollar for dollar?

Ms Barden : What it equates to is what is needed to address the problem. That figure has been developed by looking at what is an effective set of programs and what they would cost in order to make a 40 per cent reduction in litter in New South Wales.

Senator WHISH-WILSON: I am just looking at the MRA Consulting report from 2015. This is in the New South Wales container deposit scheme discussion paper. They said that a survey of local government, state agencies, private land managers and community groups found that more than $162 million a year is currently being spent on managing New South Wales litter. That is litter outside the home, outside of kerbside. Just on a rough calculation, if 45 per cent of litter by volume is drink containers, then the beverage industry has a $65 million per annum liability in New South Wales alone that other people have to meet. You are putting in $15 million, but you are confident that that $15 million would get rid of, what, 40 per cent of that $65 million liability?

Ms Barden : The Thirst for Good program's advantage is that it will address all forms of litter, whereas a container deposit scheme would only be addressing beverage containers and so there would still be a need for street sweeping, clean-up days. A significant amount of that $162 million would need to continue to address the other forms of litter that would remain under a CDS.

Mr Maguire : My organisation has costed the New South Wales system—to operate in South Australia, to operate the same system in New South Wales will cost somewhere between $200 million and $250 million per year.

Senator WHISH-WILSON: Sorry; could you say that again?

Mr Maguire : To replicate the South Australian system, which I operate, in New South Wales will cost between $200 million and $250 million per year.

Senator WHISH-WILSON: That is to replicate the South Australian system, but my understanding is that the South Australian system has inefficiencies and would not be replicated; it would be a much more efficient system.

Mr Maguire : I agree with you. Over 40 years we have learnt a lot and, to that extent, that estimate actually includes removing those inefficiencies.

Senator WHISH-WILSON: What would a national scheme cost?

Mr Maguire : When we fully costed it up, the entire scheme—I would have to come back to you, but we are talking about a system which would be in the order of about a $2 billion industry.

Ms McNamara : The 2014 COAG report, the DRIS that looked specifically at a national scheme, estimated net economic costs of greater than $3 billion nationally.

Senator WHISH-WILSON: Would that be private investment that would fund the infrastructure for a national container deposit scheme?

Mr Maguire : The proposal I have put to the New South Wales government is for an industry joint-venture to run the scheme with government oversight.

Ms McNamara : But the cost of any scheme would ultimately be passed through to the consumer.

Senator WHISH-WILSON: If there were a 10c deposit, what would you say would be the total cost, per beverage container, of a national scheme?

Mr Dawson : What we would point to is the work that was done for COAG, which I think is the most comprehensive analysis of it. It tested 10 different options. Three of them were refund CDS options and they were far and away the most expensive options. I think that is what has underpinned the view that refund CDS schemes are inherently expensive and inefficient and that there are better ways to address the problem, particularly given the fact that we have a pretty ubiquitous kerbside system already in place.

Senator WHISH-WILSON: They are very efficient at getting litter out of the countryside, I can tell you that—much more efficient than any other system.

CHAIR: Senator Whish-Wilson, you have time for one more question, and then we will be out of time. I have some further questions I would like to put on notice, if the panel is happy to take them and answer them. I am sure if you have some, Peter, you could do the same.

Senator WHISH-WILSON: Sure.

CHAIR: So you have time for one more.

Senator WHISH-WILSON: In relation to CSIRO, you said you are doing a new collaborative project with CSIRO. Do you accept the research findings they have produced so far from their first extensive nationwide beach clean-up survey?

Ms Barden : I am unable to comment as I have not looked in detail at that existing study.

Senator WHISH-WILSON: Are you funding the current CSIRO study?

Ms Barden : The National Packaging Covenant Industry Association, through the Australian Packaging Covenant, is funding a separate study—a new study—that CSIRO is undertaking.

Senator WHISH-WILSON: How much are you putting into that?

Ms Barden : I can come back with the exact figure. It is a significant amount; it is in the order of a couple of hundred thousand dollars.

Senator WHISH-WILSON: A couple of hundred thousand dollars?

Ms Barden : That is right. I can come back with the exact figure.

Senator WHISH-WILSON: That does not sound like a significant amount to me, to be genuine. I am not having a go, but that does not sound like very much money for a marine plastic study. If you could let the committee know, that would be great.

Ms Barden : Certainly. Chair, may I just address a previous question that Senator Whish-Wilson asked?

CHAIR: Sure.

Ms Barden : It was in relation to the link between litter and CDS. The senator did point to low litter rates in South Australia. I would just encourage the committee to have a look at the Keep Australia Beautiful National Litter Index. It has shown that litter rates have been rising in the Northern Territory since the introduction of a container deposit scheme.

Senator WHISH-WILSON: Do you fund Keep Australia Beautiful?

Ms Barden : The Keep Australia Beautiful National Litter Index is a joint initiative that is funded by the packaging covenant and state and federal governments. It is a collaborative approach.

Senator WHISH-WILSON: You are funding it, so it is your data.

Ms Barden : No, Senator. It is data that is actually collaboratively funded between government and the packaging covenant.

Senator WHISH-WILSON: Is it just a coincidence that Keep Australia Beautiful opposes a container deposit scheme as well?

CHAIR: I will take that as a comment unless you want to answer, Mr Parker.

Mr Parker : I guess there is always an option that if any stakeholder questions any data that industry fully supports, co-supports or whatever the case may be, then there is always the option to replicate those studies. If there is something different within the data, industry would be happy to have a conversation then.

Senator WHISH-WILSON: Chair, could I just point out that the Keep Australia Beautiful National Litter Index has produced—let's say—variable data from other sources such as state government data sources. It is one set of data that can be used, but it is just one amongst many.

CHAIR: I am going to take that as a comment, Senator Whish-Wilson. We do have to finish because we have another inquiry to get to. That concludes today's hearing. I would like to thank all witnesses for their presentation and their attendance here today. Thanks very much. I declare the hearing closed.

Committee adjourned at 08 : 54