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November 1, 2009

The Age

Dirty tactics suspected in container recycling battle

SOME of Australia's biggest companies have been accused of dirty tactics in the battle over national container deposit laws.

As federal and state environment ministers prepare to meet this Thursday, it appears that companies or groups fighting container deposit laws have commissioned an aggressive online survey designed to influence public views.

Australia is edging closer to a national container deposit scheme similar to South Australia's, where consumers are paid 10 cents to return an empty bottle or can for recycling.

In the online survey, obtained by The Sunday Age, respondents who say they support container deposit legislation are taken to a page with pictures of the scheme ''in operation''. The pictures show a woman with a trolley full of empty cans putting them, one by one, into a small hole in the wall; people waiting in queues to dump their recycling; and people dragging bags of containers.

Respondents are then told how the scheme would impact on them in terms of price (14 cents extra per container) and how much it would cost the consumers of Australia ($250 million).

Then the survey asks if the respondent has changed their mind. Later in the survey they are offered an alternative recycling scheme that shows pictures of recycling bins outside takeaway outlets and a furry animal mascot.

This alternative recycling scheme - where bins are provided at locations such as food courts, theme parks and sports grounds - is the proposed industry solution to public space recycling.

Coca-Cola Amatil, one of the main opponents of new legislation - the drinks industry says it will cost it nearly $500 million a year - denied that it was involved in the poll and referred The Sunday Age to the Australian Food and Grocery Council.

The council's chief executive officer, Kate Carnell, said the online survey appeared to have been conducted on behalf of industry, but she could not confirm whether it was commissioned by the council.

Dave West, national campaign director of the Boomerang Alliance, said that while it was unclear who was behind the campaign, ''it is consistent with the tactics that Coca-Cola Amatil and Foster's adopt''.

http://www.theage.com.au/national/dirty-tactics-suspected-in-container-recycling-battle-20091031-hqtu.html


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