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Industry bodies welcome QLD delay on cash-a-can scheme

Return-and-Earn-2Industry bodies, National Retailers Association (NRA) and Australasian Association of Convenience Stores (AACS), have welcomed the Queensland Government’s decision to push back the start date for the state’s container deposit scheme to November.

The scheme was due to kick off on July 1 this year, however, QLD Environment Minister Leanne Enoch has delayed the implementation following consultations with stakeholders.

NRA manager of industry policy David Stout welcomed the announcement, citing the issues that have so far plagued the same scheme in New South Wales.

“This is a sensible announcement by the Minister and one that retailers across Queensland welcome,” Stout said.

“The implementation of the NSW scheme was rushed and has resulted in all sorts of problems, such as there not being sufficient collection points.

“Pushing back the start date until November will enable manufacturers and retailers to effectively prepare for the Container Refund Scheme and ensure that it is not plagued by the same problems that have occurred in NSW.”

The Queensland Government is aiming to have more than 200 refund points in operation for when the scheme begins.

AACS CEO Jeff Rogut said a lack of collection points has caused significant problems with the rollout of the NSW CDS.

“While as an association we do not support a container deposit scheme, given small businesses like convenience stores typically bear the cost burden of such schemes, we acknowledge the Environment Minister’s decision to delay its introduction in Queensland,” he said.

Earlier this week, the NSW premier admitted her government’s controversial container deposit scheme has had “teething problems” after the opposition revealed consumers were out of pocket by $100 million.

Under the so-called “return and earn” scheme, which started December 1, the NSW public had paid $110 million in higher beverage prices but only $8.3 million had been returned to consumers as of Monday, the opposition said.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian conceded on Wednesday that the introduction of the scheme could have been smoother.

“There is no doubt, and I’m not going to take away from the fact, this program had major teething problems and we knew that would be the case,” she told reporters in Sydney.

However she said the opportunity to improve the environment because of the scheme made it worth it for the public.

NSW consumers can head to more than 400 collection points including 111 reverse-vending machines where they are able to redeem “eligible” bottles for 10 cents each, the government said.

But, to recover costs from the scheme, retailers including Woolworths and Coca-Cola Amatil raised beverage prices.

Ahead of the rollout in December, Woolworths erected signs in its stores advising customers “the price of many beverages will be increasing” with “the NSW Government initiative to reduce litter”.

Anyone who hands in containers at the collection points – the majority of which are in Sydney – can donate their 10-cent refund to charity or receive a refund into a registered PayPal account or in the form of a Woolworths retail voucher.

NSW Environment Minister Gabrielle Upton said there was “no scope for profiteering” under the scheme with the charges “tightly controlled”.

“The scheme was never designed to capture all the drink containers purchased in NSW,” Upton said in a statement to AAP on Wednesday.

If the public chooses to use their household recycling bins instead, local councils are responsible for reaching an agreement with waste companies so that ratepayers get a share of the refunds, Upton said.

But the NSW opposition slammed the scheme, saying consumers were out of pocket with the lack of collection points to blame.

“The minister’s bungling of this scheme has hit the hip pocket of every consumer in NSW,” spokeswoman Penny Sharpe told AAP in a statement on Wednesday.

“The failure to deliver collection points means that families are paying up to $30 a week more for their drinks but have nowhere to get their refunds.”

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