More questions than answers on container deposit scheme

In Parliament | 21.11.17

Less than 10 days from the roll-out of the container deposit scheme and the Berejiklian Government still can’t answer the question of how many vending machines will actually be operating in NSW. 

NSW Labor devoted a second day of questioning in State Parliament to the NSW Government’s heralded scheme and their clear mismanagement of it. 

Only under intense questioning by Labor, the embattled Environment Minister reiterated the Premier’s statement that there would be 200 collection points operating by December 1 - less than half of the 500 which were promised. Only 21 of the reverse vending machines have been installed - a fraction of the 800 which are expected. 

The Return and Earn website is underwhelming for information about where the collection points are - because it doesn’t offer any. 

Concerned businesses that are being impacted, like family juice company Bevco from Mudgee, say they have been slugged tens of thousands of dollars in the first month alone for the changes required under the scheme. One of the oldest companies in NSW has not been able to get the Environment Minister to listen to their concerns. 

Labor is also concerned that rural and regional communities will not have collection points in place for many months – but will have to pay the additional costs of the beverages without being able to get refunds. 

Background: The Container Deposit Scheme in NSW is called ‘Return and Earn’ and aims to help reduce litter in NSW by 40 per cent by 2020. The EPA estimates that around 300 million containers a month will be recovered by the scheme which entitles consumers to a 10 cent refund on every returned can or bottle. Containers make up 44 per cent of all litter in NSW. 

Quotes attributable to NSW Opposition Leader Luke Foley 

“The Minister has botched this scheme so much she’s had to offer beverage suppliers emergency loans of up to $200, 000 to see that they don’t go broke over Christmas. 

“NSW Labor has asked the Berejiklian Government and Minister Upton over and over about this scheme but they never have any answers. 

“Under the botched delivery of this scheme, businesses are being slugged more and consumers will have to ultimately pay for that.” 

Quotes attributable to Shadow Environment Minister Penny Sharpe 

“While the cost for suppliers and consumers drastically increases, this government can’t even tell us where the collection points will be - let alone how many there will be. 

“Consumers in rural and regional areas will miss out on being able to ‘return and earn’ because only a fraction of the collection points will be ready on time. 

“The community wants a container deposit scheme and Labor supports one. But not if the cost goes up for the consumer, there’s no collection point for them to get their refund and suppliers are almost put out of business.”