City Services Minister Chris Steel has flagged increasing the refund in the ACT's container return scheme from 10 cents to 15 cents per item while congratulating a seven-year-old Canberra boy for using his refunds to pay for food for families doing it tough.
Mr Steel said the government was also looking at extending the type of containers that could get a refund, with wine bottles the most likely next inclusion.
While more than 41 million containers had been returned since the scheme started in the ACT in July 2018, Mr Steel said only 50 per cent of available containers were being redeemed or recycled, the rest ending up in landfill.
Mr Steel said he was keen for more national discussion around increasing incentives to encourage more people to use the scheme.
He said increasing the refund from 10 cents to 15 cents was on the agenda, as was the possibility of introducing a designated bucket to households to keep their redeemable containers, as was the case in NSW. Mr Steel said returning the containers usually meant they were cleaner and there was less contamination, meaning the possibility of gaining a higher price was more likely as Australia dealt with its waste crisis.
The revisit of the scheme came as Mr Steel praised seven-year-old Luke Bamford, who raised $600 in donations to the YWCA Canberra's Lanyon Food Hub, which gives fortnightly food parcels to between 400 and 500 local families in need.
"Oh, it's fantastic," the minister said. "Young people have really got behind the scheme, whether it's to earn a bit of pocket money to contribute back to the community."
Luke, a year one student at Mawson Primary, raised $200 by collecting 2000 containers under the container return scheme. He also asked for donations from businesses in Lanyon and Mawson for the Lanyon Food Hub.
The caring young boy decided to raise the money as part of making his "Joey promise" with Mount Taylor scouts. The promise has a community service project to fulfil. And Luke wanted to live up to the Joeys' motto "HOP" - "Help other people". He felt "good" knowing his hard work was going to help other families.
His mum Pearl said she was extremely proud of her boy.
"Oh, absolutely. How could you not?" she said.
Mrs Bamford said the Mawson and Lanyon businesses were very happy to contribute to the cause.
"A lot of people said it showed great initiative and there were a lot of words of encouragement to Luke to keep going," she said.
Mrs Bamford said Luke chose YWCA Canberra as the recipient of his fundraising because she had a contact in the organisation and knew of the important work it was doing.
YWCA Canberra community services executive director Cara Jacobs said Luke's generosity was amazing.
"It's wonderful to see such empathy and leadership from a seven-year-old," Ms Jacobs said. "Lots of families in Canberra are living with food insecurity, many on low incomes, who go without food and medicine."
Ms Jacobs said the number of families in the Lanyon Valley accessing the food parcels had increased from 300 last year to up to 500 this year. "It is quite a socially isolated, geographically-isolated area. There is a lot of hidden disadvantage," she said.