9 May 2018

Moves to prevent ‘cash for cans’ scheme causing drink price spike

| Glynis Quinlan
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Drinking problem: The ACT’s proposed container deposit scheme may increase drink prices, but the government says they will not let that happen.

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.

“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.”

City Services Minister Meegan Fitzharris and Peter Bruce, CEO of the scheme’s coordinator Exchange for Change ACT, announcing details of the scheme last month. Photo: Supplied.

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.

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A recycling scheme paid for by the beverage companies sounds suspiciously like Mexico paying for Trump’s wall. I honestly don’t understand what problem this scheme is designed to fix? We recycle 100% of our own drink containers out of habit. Am I now supposed to stockpile containers at home and cash them in a few times a year – because I’ll tell you right now I can’t be bothered doing that. I’ll continue to put every single container in the recycling bins at home.

“The costs of running the container deposit scheme will be funded by the beverage industry”

No its a tax on consumers. No way is it funded by anyone else .

What kind of Mickey Mouse accounting are they trying to pull.

Even if this does jack up the price does it matter? Beer and soft drinks are not a necessity of life. Might help improve waistlines if people drank less of these. Apparently one indicator of being over weight is how much soft drink is consumed, and over 60% of people are overweight and it’s increasing.

And the other 40%.
The tax will apply to milk containers and soon after that they will go after paper and plasic.
We already get forced to pay a tax on plastic bags even though we have something called a plastic bag ban.

Also i wouldnt be suprised if they multiply the tax on spirits by the number of drinks. So wine would be 1 dollar rather than 10 cents. Otherwise we end up forcing people to the hard liquor.

gooterz wrote, ” We already get forced to pay a tax on plastic bags”

We don’t have a tax on plastic bags that I know of. Nobody is forcing you to take plastic shopping bags. I am presuming that’s what you are referring to. That’s not a tax and your know it. It’s just thoughtlessness and laziness if you take them, and bloody mindedness. I haven’t routinely taken a plastic shopping bag in over thirty years. Need so few of them. There is no need to generate lots of household garbage just so you can make an excuse to ‘need’ them. Enough products come with plastic bags now that can be used to put garbage in. There are bread bags, Canberra Times wrappers, etc, and I can’t find a use for most of them; let alone buying more. I line my kitchen garage bin with (the bigger) Saturday Canberra Times wrapper (could also use a bread bag, etc). That takes one to two weeks to fill. And I am not trying!

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