Consumers have paid $100 million for cans and bottles but received just $8.3 million back

In Parliament | 14.02.18

Consumers will be furious with the Berejiklian-Barilaro Government as official forecasts show 10 weeks of the ‘Return and Earn’ container deposit scheme added $110 million to the cost of drinks, but only $8.3 million has been refunded for containers.

With only 15 per cent of reverse vending machines in place and over the counter collection points struggling, the botched rollout has left hundreds of thousands of people unable to get the 10c refund.

This means consumers have been left more than $100 million out of pocket.

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. All of this was collected from consumers via higher drink prices over summer.

Environment Minister Gabrielle Upton promised 800 reverse vending machines across 500 collection points. Fewer than half were in place when the scheme started, three months later there are only 111 reverse vending machines and less than 400 collection points.

While Minister Upton has attempted to cover up the failures by trumpeting 83 million returned containers over the first 10 weeks, the scheme’s own forecasts shatter this illusion, with that figure representing just 22 per cent of the forecast of 375 million returned containers.

Regional and rural parts of the state have been particularly mistreated by the Government, with 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.

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

Quotes attributable to Shadow Environment Minister Penny Sharpe MLC 

“Everyone in NSW is paying more for every drink, but with the Government failing to provide enough refund collection points our collective wallets are $100 million lighter. 

“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. 

“The Minister must explain how long consumers are going to be paying more without the ability to obtain a refund. 

“These failures are putting additional cost of living pressures on families across NSW. 

“At what point will the Premier cut this hopeless Minister loose?”