A contest to run Tasmania's coming container refund scheme appears to be brewing.
A group called TasRecycle - set up by big beverage makers Coca-Cola Amatil and Lion - wants the deal with the state government, saying its model could create up to 150 jobs and benefit community organisations and small and medium-sized businesses.
However, a potential rival says the beverage companies would have an incentive to keep recycling rates low as their costs would rise as container returns increased.
The TOMRA Cleanaway joint venture, which is the independent network operator of the New South Wales scheme, is also taking an interest in a Tasmanian scheme.
It argues its method is the best available option to maximise returns of drink containers.
"The key decision the Tasmanian government needs to make in relation to a CRS is around scheme design," TOMRA Cleanaway chief executive James Dorney said on Thursday.
"Discussion around a tender is a little premature until that bridge has been crossed.
"We are certainly of the view the best design is that in operation in New South Wales and the ACT, with an independent network operator.
"We would love to deliver a similar program in Tasmania if the opportunity was there."
He said that system incentivised the network operator to encourage the highest container return rate possible, as it earned a handling fee per container returned.
TOMRA Cleanaway argues the beverage industry has a "significant disincentive to design and operate" an "optimal, convenient system that reaches high returns".
"Beverage companies' costs rise proportionately with an increase in return rates because the deposit and any additional scheme fees are only paid on containers that are actually returned," it said in a discussion paper on a Tasmanian scheme.
"This perverse incentive to keep return rates low cannot be overstated."
Mr Dorney said container return rates in New South Wales increased from 32 per cent of eligible containers before the scheme was introduced in late 2017 to 75 per cent in the first half of 2020.
"The high rates of return lead to positive outcomes around litter reduction, recovery of resources and all the important benefits a CRS can deliver," he said.
In the discussion paper, TOMRA Cleanaway said collection points in Tasmania must be co-located with essential retail so recycling containers and collecting refunds became par of everyday routines.
It said the New South Wales scheme provided 750 direct jobs.
Mr Dorney said the company had not modelled potential job creation in Tasmania.
He said many of the jobs in New South Wales were skilled and based in regional areas, and he expected similar in Tasmania.
Coca-Cola Amatil and Lion recently said KPMG modelling showed TasRecycle's model could create up to 150 jobs and deliver up to $6 million a year to community organisations and up to $8 million a year to small and medium-sized businesses.
They said that compared to 90 jobs under "an alternative international waste company scheme" where "large for profit international waste companies operate a monopoly system".
Coca-Cola Amatil's Jeff Maguire said the companies believed they had a responsibility to capture and recycle as much of their packaging waste as possible.