Industry unites to slam NSW's support of container recycling scheme

By RJ Whitehead

- Last updated on GMT

Industry unites to slam NSW's support of container recycling scheme

Related tags Container deposit scheme

An alliance of industry food and beverage associations has waded into speculation that the New South Wales government will introduce a cash-for-containers recycling scheme after a Sydney newspaper reported that the state’s premier was backing such an initiative.

The Sun Herald said on Sunday​ that Mike Baird was planning to invite drinks companies to join a scheme ostensibly to “help clean up the state's beaches, parks and rivers​”. 

The alliance, which includes representatives of grocery, drinks, dairy and brewer trade associations, hit out strongly at the plans, citing a December report​ by the Council of Australian Governments (Coag) that recommended the introduction of an industry-led national recycling and anti-litter programme, while rejecting an “unaffordable​” A$8bn (US$6.5bn) alternative container deposit scheme.

Claims better alternative

The group’s spokesperson, Gary Dawson, said the industry remained committed to working with the NSW government to find ways to reduce litter and improve recycling.

There is no simple solution and it requires a consultative process to develop tailored programmes​,” said Dawson, who is also the chief executive of the Australian Food and Grocery Council.

The industry has extensive experience in this area across many markets globally and across many different regimes​.

This experience, in conjunction with the findings of the Coag report… should prove invaluable to the governments decision making process​.”

The report was commissioned by the federal government and other state governments including NSW, Victoria, Queensland, Western Australia and Tasmania, and was based on four years’ analysis of the costs and benefits of policy options, including container deposit legislation (CDL).

[It] concluded that CDL, including reverse vending machine schemes, is many times more expensive than industry’s alternative, which was endorsed as the preferred approach​,” continued Dawson.

Given the NSW government led the Coag process, it should have full confidence in its conclusions​.”

NSW has asked the food and beverage industry to provide further details on its alternative scheme in the coming weeks, through which it is expected to focus on ways to find a solution that safeguard jobs that it says might be put at risk by CDL.

Letter leaked to paper

The Sun Herald’s had uncovered a letter written by the NSW premier in which he told the National Packaging Covenant Industry Association and Coca-Cola Amatil (CCA) managing director Barry O'Connell that "the NSW government favours the introduction of a state-based container deposit scheme​”.

In 2013, CCA had been one of the companies, along with Schweppes and Lion Nathan, which had taken federal court action against the Northern Territory government after it had introduced 10-cent container deposits. 

These deposits had resulted in the return of an extra 35m containers in the first 12 months of the project.

The [industry] proposal lacks clear governance arrangements, program specificity and the level of long-term funding required to achieve sustained behavioural change​," Baird said in his letter, the Sun Herald reported.

According to the paper, one in three pieces of litter is a drinks container. The NSW scheme would encourage schools and charities to raise funds by collecting containers for cash at a rate that is likely to be set at a 10-cent rebate. 

Beverages companies will be allowed to increase drink prices by the amount of the deposit, and only need to pay the deposit on redeemed containers.

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Posted by James Hatfield,

"If the beverage companies can increase all drinks by $0.10 but only pay $0.10 on deposits wouldnt this increase their profits by the amount the sell but are not deposited in the scheme??
Why are they complaining?"

Exactly, there will always be some containers never handed in for 10c refund. They think the price increase will hurt demand for their products. Truth is, the prices go up all the time anyway. Ever bought a coke from a service station? $5.15 for 600ml!!! or from a vending machine? all these away from home purchases means you are paying way above normal anyway. Who goes to Woolworths, buys 24 cans of coke, and strategically takes 1 or 2 with them when out and about? Exactly...

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This will increase company profits so why are they complaining?

Posted by Jason,

If the beverage companies can increase all drinks by $0.10 but only pay $0.10 on deposits wouldnt this increase their profits by the amount the sell but are not deposited in the scheme??
Why are they complaining?

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Profit before environment

Posted by Rattlenake,

Nothing new here - industry always puts profits first. There is really only 1 way to sort this problem and that is to put a price on litter. NT and SA have schemes that run well. Good on NSW - about time!

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