The launch date for Containers for Change in Western Australia has been deferred due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Originally planned for launch on 2 June, the decision to delay the scheme is due to the unprecedented impact of COVID-19 and its expected disruption to refund points.
The scheme was initially slated to launch during a time period, which may be the potential peak of the pandemic, and industry associations have welcomed the deferment, which they say will allow stakeholders to focus on getting through this unprecedented period.
Delaying the scheme until after the major impacts of COVID-19 are felt will eliminate the public health concerns such as potential risk of infection from handling containers, as well as over-the-counter refund points contravening social distancing.
The scheme’s postponement is in accordance with advice from the scheme co-ordinator, WA Return Recycle Renew Ltd (WARRRL).
Liquor Stores Association (LSA WA) CEO, Peter Peck, says: “The deferment of the CDS will allow the relevant stakeholders to focus on the task at hand and that is getting through the other side of this global pandemic.
“Not withstanding the CDS is a worthwhile and significant project the industry will buy-in on.
“We believe the scheme reflects the changing values in our society and while there is a small cost to the consumer, there are massive benefits to the environment and community, including the creation of new jobs and allowing charities and community organisations to raise money.”
The scheme focuses on employing people with disability, older people and Aboriginal people. These community groups are generally more vulnerable and their involvement in the scheme may place them at greater risk of infection.
Closures of pubs, clubs and many other venues, as well as schools, would have also impacted on the volume of containers.
Environment Minister Stephen Dawson, said that there were too many potential health risks and logistical difficulties to start the scheme on 2 June.
“Starting the scheme on June 2 would put the scheme’s success at risk and place refund point operators under significant pressure.
“While it is disappointing to be deferring the scheme, we remain committed to delivering the most diverse and accessible scheme in Australia.
“We will continue to work together and update the community, operators and suppliers throughout this period of uncertainty.”
WARRL, the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation (DWER) and the State Government will review the situation in August 2020 to determine whether the scheme’s new start date will be November 2020 or June 2021.