Proposed NSW bottle deposit recycling scheme, bottlers protest
An alliance of Australia’s beverage manufacturers has responded to speculation that New South Wales could introduce a Container Deposit Scheme for beverage packaging, saying recent research has shown such schemes are “many times more expensive” than the industry-preferred approach.
It has been reported that a drinks container deposit scheme is to be introduced in NSW within the next few weeks as part of a plan to clean up the state’s beaches and parks. The details of the cash for containers scheme are still being finalised but it is likely to feature a rebate of 10 cents per item.
The Australian Beverages Council said the beverage industry remained committed to working with the NSW Government to develop the most effective and efficient way to reduce litter and improve recycling.
AFGC CEO and spokesperson for an alliance of food and beverage industry members said there was “no simple solution” and that a consultative process was required to “develop tailored programs”.
“Industry has extensive experience in this area across many markets globally and across many different regimes,” Mr Dawson said. “This experience in conjunction with the findings of the COAG Report made public in December 2014 should prove invaluable to the Governments decision making process,” he said.
COAG Report findings
The Council of Australian Governments (COAG) Report, Packaging Impacts Decision Regulation Impact Statement, was commissioned by the Federal Government and other State Governments including NSW, Victoria, Queensland, Western Australia and Tasmania.
The COAG report, released publicly in December 2014, examined 10 different options to improve recycling and reduce litter, and found an extension of the successful Australian Packaging Covenant was the most attractive, as it would generate $285 million of recycling and litter reduction benefits.
The COAG Report also rejected a Greens-backed $8 billion container deposit scheme (CDS) as the least affordable of the 10 options. An alliance of Australian food and beverage industry members has claimed that a CDS would also cut 1,800 jobs nationally.
The industry alliance’s spokesperson, Geoff Parker of the Australian Beverages Council, called on all governments to accept the findings of the COAG report and to work with industry to implement the recommended solution. He said the alternative CDS plan would increase the retail price of every bottle, can, carton of milk, soft drink, beer, wine and juice container by up to 20 cents.
“To participate in a CDS people need to store cans, bottles and cartons at home and then drive to a handful of depots in Sydney, scan them into a container one by one to receive a portion of their own money back,” Mr Parker said.
Extended Australian Packaging Covenant
The COAG Report found the food and beverage industry’s Extended Australian Packaging Covenant provided a number of key benefits over other options including:
- The design optimised outcomes because it targeted all packaging and covered all participants along the supply chain, from design and manufacture to end of life disposal
- It was non-prescriptive in how outcomes can be achieved, with a flexible and adaptable approach that was better able to respond to changes in the market and operating environment
- No new regulations were required
- It had demonstrated that it can operate alongside a range of existing regulatory arrangements
- It had more moderate impacts for consumers, and business, when compared with some of the higher-cost options.
Among a string of new initiatives, the Report found the Extended Australian Packaging Covenant would:
- Provide funding and support to local councils to target local litter hot spots and further improve already successful kerbside recycling by reducing contamination
- Partner local community groups, including Keep Australia Beautiful, on targeted litter reduction projects, tailored to local needs – including marine and roadside strategies
- Fund a long-term behavioural change program, to embed an anti-litter culture
- Invest in new recycling infrastructure, to increase the amount of packaging that can be recycled;
- Extend away-from-home venue and business recycling.
Since 2003 the national packaging recycling rate has increased from 39 per cent to 64.2 per cent, exceeding the EU packaging recycling rate.
According to Keep Australia Beautiful’s 2013/14 National Litter Index, litter rates also continue to reduce nationally – with the overall average number of items per 1,000m2 at 51, down from 56 in 2012/13, and the overall average estimated volume per 1,000m2 at 5.97 litres, down from 6.13 litres in 2012/13.
The alliance of food and beverage industry members has said that extending the Australian Packaging Covenant would “significantly accelerate this long-term trend”.
The following alliance members have called on all governments to accept the findings of the COAG report and work with industry to implement its recommended solution:
- Australian Beverages Council
- Australian Food and Grocery Council
- Brewers Association of Australia & New Zealand
- Australian Dairy Products Federation
- Australasian Association of Convenience Stores.