One of Australia’s largest and most powerful drinks companies has moved to reassure its investors that NSW’s new 10 cent refund container deposit scheme (CDS) will not immediately hit its bottom line but cautioned it was still too early to gauge the future financial impact.
The new CDS is slated to start from July next year. It will apply to most drink containers between 150ml and three litres and containers can be dropped off at large depots, pop-up sites or reverse vending machines.
The drinks industry has been in high dudgeon over the plans, primarily because beverage suppliers will be forced to fund the 10 cent refund, along with the associated handling and administration fees. The scheme is likely to translate into higher drinks prices and could lower company profits.
Coca-Cola Amatil’s (CCA) announcement to the Australian Securities Exchange today (Monday) said: “Given the scheme will not be implemented for some time, there is no immediate impact for the company. CCA is working through the potential implications and once further details are known, will update the market as appropriate.
“It is uncertain whether any additional states may consider the introduction of a container deposit scheme, however the Queensland and ACT governments have both previously indicated their interested in developing a similar scheme to, or aligned with, NSW.”
South Australian and the Northern Territory both already have similar schemes in place.
The drinks industry campaigned for an alternative scheme, Thirst for Good, led by the Australian Food and Grocery Council, with proposed measures including more public bins, extra litter collectors and education programs. The industry said it would contribute $15 million a year towards it.
NSW Premier Mike Baird announced the litter-busting move on Sunday afternoon (May 8), possibly hoping that it would be overshadowed by the official announcement of the July federal election and Mother’s Day festivities and fly under the radar with drinks industry executives.
Mr Baird said the program would dramatically reduce the amount of litter in the state, much of which is made up of drinks containers. The National Litter Index has reported that drink containers account for some 44 per cent of all litter in a public place.
“The scheme we are announcing today is the single largest initiative ever undertaken to reduce litter in NSW,” Mr Baird said. “Giving people a financial incentive to do the right thing and recycle drink containers will help to significantly reduce the estimated 160 million drink containers littered every year.”
Greens spokesperson for Consumer Affairs, Senator Peter Whish-Wilson said the NSW decision would provide a “massive impetus” for other states to follow suit.
“Ultimately the beverage industry will come to realise that unified national scheme is in their own best interest, rather than having a patchwork of state schemes to deal with.”
City of Sydney Council is ahead of the curve and installed four trial reverse vending machines in Haymarket, Circular Quay, Redfern and Wynyard in 2014. The machines offer small rewards, like food truck vouchers or charity donations, in return for plastic bottles and aluminium cans.
Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore said the reverse vending machines had been highly effective in increasing recycling and promoting behavioural change.
“Our machines have recycled nearly 2,000 kilograms of cans and bottles since they were installed less than two years ago,” Ms Moore said.
“It’s encouraging that so many Sydneysiders have embraced recycling and are doing the right thing by the environment. By using these reverse vending machines, they have saved 139,000 containers from landfill and helped turn rubbish into a valuable resource.”
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