Feedback wanted on container deposit scheme and beverage prices

Feedback is being sought on the way the container deposit scheme is impacting the NSW beverage market.

Return and Earn began on December 1, 2017. It allowed consumers to return eligible beverage containers to designated collection points for a 10 cent refund per container.

The initiative was introduced to reduce the volume of litter in the state by 40 per cent by 2020. Dubbo currently has two reverse vending machines.

The NSW government has asked the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal to monitor and report on the impacts of the scheme on beverage prices over the first year of its operation.

IPART chair Peter Boxall said he was looking for feedback from the beverage industry, consumers and other interested stakeholders.

“We’re inviting comment on our proposed approach to the review, including feedback on how the costs of the scheme have affected beverage prices, and whether there has been any impact on competition in the beverage industry,” Dr Boxall said.

IPART has not been asked to monitor the effectiveness of the scheme in achieving its objective of litter reduction or operational elements of the scheme, including the availability or accessibility of container collection points.

Shadow Environment Minister Penny Sharpe has lashed out at the scheme.

“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,” she said.

“[Minister Gabrielle Upton’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.”

There has been $8.3 million refunded for containers to date, but the initial government forecasts showed ten weeks of the Return and Earn scheme would add $110 million to the cost of drinks.

IPART has been asked to release a progress report in April and a final report is due to the NSW government in December 2018.

Submissions close on March 13, 2018. They can be made at ipart.nsw.gov.au.