Container deposit scheme costing consumers

CONTAINER_DEPOSIT_SCHEMEThe Queensland government has pushed back the introduction of its drink container refund scheme to learn from the mistakes of the “problematic” roll-out of a similar scheme in NSW.

The scheme was due to start in July but will now not begin until November so stakeholders can learn from the experience in NSW, where the container deposit recycling scheme has struggled due to a lack of collection points.

“It’s clear there are valuable lessons to be learned from the problematic introduction of their scheme,” Environment Minister Leeanne Enoch said on Thursday.

Meanwhile official forecasts show that during the 10 weeks of the ‘Return and Earn’ container deposit scheme, $110 million has been added to the cost of drinks, but only $8.3 million has been refunded for containers.

Approximately 15 per cent of reverse vending machines are in place.

Official forecasts for the scheme show the cost of the scheme at $53 million for December, $43 million for January, and $14 million up to 12 February, which according to the shadow governement, all takings were collected from consumers via higher drink prices over summer.

“The Minister’s bungling of this scheme has hit the hip pocket of every consumer in NSW, particularly people in regional areas who have to travel further to find a collection point,” said Shadow Environment Minister Penny Sharpe MLC.

In December last year, NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro labelled the roll-out of the state government’s “cash-for-cans” scheme as “diabolical”, while The Australasian Association of Convenience Stores (AACS) called to delay the introduction of the “half-baked” scheme on the basis that the infrastructure is not in place to deliver the scheme.

The state government originally planned to roll out 800 reverse vending machines across 500 collection points. Fewer than half were in place when the scheme started and three months later there are 111 reverse vending machines and less than 400 collection points.

Several large towns still without a collection point after 10 weeks, including Mudgee, Parkes, Narrabri, Kiama (charity donation only), Kurri Kurri, Muswellbrook, Taree, Murwillumbah, and Byron Bay.

Maitland – a city of 78,000 people and the fastest growing regional city in the state – is currently without a collection point for people to recoup the cost added to their drinks.

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