Queensland pushes back Container Refund Scheme launch

16 February, 2018 by Deborah Jackson

By Deborah Jackson, Editor, National Liquor News

The Queensland government has pushed back the launch of its Container Refund Scheme (CRS) in the hopes it can learn from the “problematic introduction” of a similar scheme in New South Wales.

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Originally due to start 1 July this year, the CRS will now commence on 1 November.

“It’s important we get the scheme right from day one so that its full community, environmental and recycling benefits are realised,” said Minister for Environment Leanne Enoch.

“Extending the timeframe for the scheme’s introduction was requested by stakeholders to ensure Queensland did not run into the same rollout issues experienced in New South Wales when its scheme started 1 December last year.

“While our scheme is not run along the same lines as that in New South Wales, it’s clear there are valuable lessons to be learned from the problematic introduction of their scheme.

“These include ensuring there are enough container refund points from the outset, so people have the ability to get the 10c refund.”

The Queensland Government has appointed Container Exchange (CoEx) to work with local businesses and community groups to establish a network of Refund Points.

CoEx will be governed by a board of nine directors, made up of beverage industry, including CCA and Lion, and independent representation, including an independent chair.

The CoEx website says that the Queensland CRS will require a network of about 300 Refund Points but the Minister for Environment’s statement says they expect around 200 to be ready to operate by 1 November.

The NSW Container Deposit Scheme (CDS) was supposed to launch with 800 collection points but in December fewer than 300 were registered across the state.

A survey conducted by NSW Labor over 6 and 7 December claimed that already nearly 20 per cent of those participants had withdrawn or were in the process of doing so, and the Shadow Environment Minister Penny Sharpe MLC, branded the scheme a “complete shambles”.

John Carmody, the Managing Director of Liquor Legends, which has stores nationally told TheShout that he would prefer to see the Queensland CRS scrapped completely.

“We would prefer that the whole scheme was binned, but pushing it back does give us some relief in light of the absolute disaster that the NSW scheme has proven to be.”

Speaking in the National Liquor News Annual Industry Leaders Forum, Carmody revealed the group had seen a decrease in beer sales following the NSW launch.

“We’ve seen almost a four per cent decrease in classic beer sales for instance, with the impact of 15 cents a stubby or $4 a case, that’s not sustainable. And it’s hitting those people that can least afford to be affected.”

Carmody continued: “In NSW whole communities and towns have been left without the opportunity to actually redeem some of the 15 cents that they were charged.

“Without the adequate collection points, with the excessive charges for what has proven to be a really expensive rollout, those things are just not sustainable and will have in reality passed onto the consumers a huge burden for what I don’t see delivers the community a real benefit.

“What I see it doing is delivering a massive benefit to government, those are the people that are collecting huge amounts of money on the back of this scheme. And how they could possibly collect over $100 million in NSW and give back just over $8 million is absolutely ridiculous. And it’s on every bottle of water, it’s on every can, every bottle of beer, it’s just crazy.”

Carmody says that: “(Pushing the CDS back) is only going to help if they come up with a model that is inclusive and not exclusive and they are realistic in the rates that they pass on through suppliers in the cost of goods.

“They’ve opened for expressions of interest, so those people here in Queensland that are interested in doing that need to get involved. But we can’t have them just doing deals with the big end of town with the chains and others. It needs to be every corner store, every hotel, and every scout group that wants to be a collection point should be included.”

The refund scheme will see most drink containers between 150ml and 3L eligible for a 10 cent refund, although some containers are exempt.

Information on the scheme, including eligible containers, is available via the Queensland Government website.

Interested individuals, community groups and other organisations wanting to receive information on the request for proposal to set up container refund points should register through tenders@containerexchange.com.au before 5 March 2018.