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Return and earn scheme tops 18m in first month

CONTAINER_DEPOSIT_SCHEMEEighteen million containers have been returned in the first month of the NSW Container Deposit Scheme, dubbed return and earn, with the numbers expected to increase post New Year’s Eve celebrations.

“The uptake of the scheme is growing as more collection points are rolled out and more containers are returned,” said Mark Gifford, NSW Environment Protection Authority chief environmental regulator.

“Not only are people collecting the 10c deposit and the amount of money being donated to charities through reverse vending machines is growing, but cans and bottles continue to be removed from the NSW litter stream.”

More Return and Earn collection points are set to open across NSW. A total of 316 collection points are currently operating.

In the 24 hours leading up to New Year’s Eve, collection points at Emerton (32,586 returns), Mt Hutton (27,813) and Wagga Wagga (26,042) were amongst the busiest.

The Casula collection point has received a total of 493,745 containers since December 1, with Emerton (476,731) and Granville (454,024), also amongst the top returning sites.

Late last year, The Australasian Association of Convenience Stores (AACS) called for the introduction of the CDS to be delayed, on the basis that the infrastructure required was not in place to deliver the scheme.

AACS CEO Jeff Rogut said concerns raised by the convenience industry – a sector set to bear be impacted by the CDS – remain unaddressed, including the absence of a public education program.

“The simple fact is, the CDS is not in a position to commence in NSW. Retailers have recognised this, now some politicians do too. The scheme has no chance to succeed if it commences before the infrastructure and consumer education program is in place,” Rogut said.

“There are reports that some regional areas have no collection points accessible to members of the public, and most people don’t know the scheme is imminent, nor how to participate in it.

“What people will understand however is that prices will jump to cover beverage manufacturers’ increased costs to comply with the CDS, and in the absence of a proper education program, their frustration will be unfairly directed at retailers.

Rogut added that concerns around the transition timeframe for new label requirements, and the need to allow retailers time to sell through old stock, remain unaddressed.

“It is critical for consumers to understand how the scheme works and, importantly, that retailers are not collection points for refunds, before it goes live. This means education and this has yet to occur to a satisfactory degree,” he said.

The AACS has called for a staged roll-out of the CDS to give the scheme the best chance to succeed in changing consumer behaviour and reducing litter, without disrupting small businesse, which would allow for collection points, packaging and other aspects to be scaled up over time.

NSW Government said with the growing popularity of the scheme, network operator TOMRA Cleanaway is attending and cleaning sites every day.

Woolworths is the first ‘return and earn’ retail partner under the scheme while supermarket rival Aldi sells containers that are eligible for a refund via network operator TOMRA’s collection points at Woolworths supermarkets.

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