The ACT Government will introduce measures to ensure its container deposit scheme doesn’t jack up drink prices following concerns about this happening in NSW.
ACT City Services Minister Meegan Fitzharris said beverage prices in the ACT will be monitored one month before and 12 months after the implementation of the container deposit scheme on June 30 to identify if any costs passed onto consumers are excessive.
The Government has engaged the Independent Competition and Regulatory Commission (ICRC) to undertake independent monitoring of prices and has committed to respond to any issues raised.
The move follows on from concerns which have come to the fore in NSW following that state’s introduction of the scheme last December – including complaints about excessive price increases and questions about who pockets the funds not claimed by the public through refunds.
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“We have been watching the rollout of the container deposit scheme in NSW and we are learning lessons from their experience to make sure Canberra’s container deposit scheme is efficient, effective and fair,” Ms Fitzharris said.
“The costs of running the container deposit scheme will be funded by the beverage industry, and we expect the industry may try to recover costs by increasing the retail price of beverages.
“We want to make sure Canberrans are treated fairly, so we want to know if any beverage price increases are excessive and don’t reflect the actual costs incurred to fund the container deposit scheme.”
According to the Liquor Stores Association of NSW, the NSW container deposit scheme has added $4-5 to the cost of a carton of beer.
Coca-Cola Amatil has said the implementation of the scheme has increased its prices in NSW by 13.6 cents per container, excluding GST.
In an investor report from last November, Coca-Cola Amatil said that Australian Beverages’ near-term earnings will be impacted by the implementation of the container deposit schemes in the ACT, NSW, Queensland and Western Australia.
NSW Fair Trading Commissioner Rose Webb has warned that any retailers or distributors who use the NSW container deposit scheme as a “false reason to jack up prices” will be targeted.
NSW Fair Trading has received complaints about price increases that exceed the costs of the scheme to businesses and has also had reports of consumers being told that the scheme has caused a price increase, when the relevant containers aren’t even eligible for a refund.
“The container deposit scheme will encourage Canberrans to do the right thing to reduce litter and waste to landfill,” Ms Fitzharris said.
“It is not an opportunity for beverage companies to arbitrarily or excessively increase prices, so we’ll be keeping a close eye on them.”
Ms Fitzharris said that the ICRC’s monitoring will be paid for by the beverage industry from scheme funding.
The container deposit scheme will start in the ACT on June 30 this year, with Canberrans able to receive a 10 cent refund for empty drink containers such as aluminium cans and plastic water bottles.
There will be two types of collection points – a face-to-face express service run by social enterprise organisations or charities, and bulk depots that accept larger quantities of containers.
For updates about the scheme and other information including the rollout of collection points, go to: www.actcds.com.au
Are you concerned that the container deposit scheme will lead to excessive increases in drink prices? Do you think the Government’s measures will be effective in preventing this? Let us know in the comments below.