THE federal government has given its strongest support yet for a national can and bottle recycling system.
Federal Environment Minister Tony Burke told a gathering of environment groups one of the tasks at an upcoming meeting of state and territory environment ministers would be to try and get agreement for a national container deposit system.
"Container deposit legislation is one of the options there for states and it certainly would make a difference," Mr Burke said.
"We are making sure that everything is ready and available for the states to be able to make the next step."
The Boomerang Alliance, which represents 18 environment groups, including Environment Victoria, and has campaigned for a national CDS, welcomed Mr Burke's comments.
Boomerang Alliance national convener Jeff Angel said Mr Burke's support was a "major advance".
"With ministers meeting by mid-year we will be ramping up our campaign in the key states," he said.
"We remain ready to talk to the beverage industry about developing an efficient and effective container deposits system."
According to the Boomerang Alliance, a national CDS would produce $1.8billion in funds in the first five years.
The state government backed away from introducing a state-based system in February.
Environment Minister Ryan Smith said a national scheme would be more effective than individual state and territory-based schemes.
Mr Smith said: "We have been consistent in advocating for the examination of the merits of a national container deposit scheme."
He said the government was addressing litter and waste problems with its recent $1million Litter Prevention Officers program and
$1.4million Public Place Recycling and Roadside Litter grants program.
South Australia and the Northern Territory pay a 10 cent deposit per item.