WA's biggest environmental group has accused beverage giant Coca Cola of lobbying the Barnett Government in the run up to the election to argue against a container recycling scheme.

The Conservation Council of WA today said Coca-Cola was “undermining” public support for a container deposit scheme by scheduling closed briefing sessions with Liberal MPs this afternoon.

Piers Verstegen, the council’s director, said the company’s actions were “nothing short of outrageous” and flew in the face of growing calls for something to be done about WA’s poor recycling record.

According to the most recent Australian Bureau of Statistics figures published in 2011, WA diverts 28.2 per cent of all rubbish from landfill sites compared with a national figure of 42.6 per cent.

Under cash for can schemes, beverage manufacturers such as Coca-Cola Amatil and Lion are hit with a levy for each can or bottle they produce.

Consumers are then paid a small amount – usually between 5¢ and 10¢ – for every container they deliver to recycling points.

“Western Australia has the lowest recycling rate of any mainland State,” Mr Verstegen said.

“Community groups around WA are ready to help fix that, but Coke is blocking them every step of the way.

“This is a clear case of a multinational company putting its profits ahead of local community groups and charities who would directly benefit from a recycling refund scheme.”

Coca Cola Amatil has not responded to requests for comment.

Mr Verstegen said South Australia, which has the country’s longest running cash-for-cans scheme, recycled up to four times as many containers as WA and used the millions generated to fund community groups.

He also put the major political parties on notice over the issue, calling for the full disclosure of donations by the beverage manufacturers if any were made, including those made by industry groups.

“Through a combination of back-room lobbying and misinformation campaigns, Coke and its front-groups have repeatedly tried to stop community efforts to improve recycling,” he said.

“It seems that Coke will do almost anything to stop community efforts to improve recycling, and political donations may well be part of the mix.”

The West Australian

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