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When I was a kid, my sisters and I used to take our empty soft drink bottles back to the deli to get a 5 cent refund. We'd spend the money on lollies, and we thought it was a lot of fun.
If you live in South Australia, you can still get a refund (and now it's a whole 10 cents) but the rest of Australia is out of luck. We haven't had the refunds for ages: why is that?
Only 35% of plastic water bottles actually get recycled, even though they're completely, totally, 100% recyclable. The exception is South Australia, where they recycle over 85% of their containers (well done, SA!).
Most people buy bottled water because it's really handy while they're out and about, but if there aren't any public recycling bins, and there's no refund, then they're not likely to bother recycling the bottles.
Even if everyone cuts back on drinking bottled water, it's probably not going away altogether. I think we need to make sure that the bottles that do get bought are recycled properly, not just thrown in the bin or at the side of the road. We need to ask our local councils for recycling bins or refunds to make sure people take their bottles back to somewhere that can reuse them.
Check out the Boomerang Alliance for more info about sustainable packaging and the groups working on it in your state.