December 20, 2010
World News Australia
Cash-for-containers no 'magic pudding'
Territorians are being warned against seeing the NT government's cash-for-containers legislation as a "magic pudding" for Christmas that won't cost them anything.
The Australian Food and Grocery Council (AFGC) says it is prepared to back a sensible and cost-effective way of reducing waste in the community but cannot support the cash-for-containers legislation.
The Boomerang Alliance of 17 environmental groups has accused the AFGC of being party to a 30-year fear campaign waged to avoid responsibility for waste.
Boomerang Alliance campaign director Robbie Kelman said the AFGC was the mouthpiece for just three beverage companies - Coca Cola, Lion Nathan and Fosters - which oppose progressive and successful cash-for-containers programs.
But AFGC chief executive Kate Carnell says the council does not just represent the big end of town when it comes to beverage containers, but also smaller companies which are concerned about the costs of the legislation, not only to them but also to consumers.
Ms Carnell said it was an expensive scheme that added at least 10 cents to the cost of the container, to cover the deposit.
Collection, transport and recycling costs would also have to be met with the containers having to be shipped to Brisbane or Adelaide because the NT has no recycling facilities.
There likely would be other, at this stage unknown, costs that would have to be factored in, she said.
She said the AFGC had been talking to the NT government and other environment ministers around Australia about a range of different approaches.
"We fully accept whatever approach we take is going to cost industry money and we're not shirking from that at all.
"We're just saying that a container deposit is a very expensive option and we think it's important that number one: we have a national approach".
All options needed to be subject to some "good, solid scrutiny", she added.
The NT government said, frustrated by the lack of an Australia-wide container recycling scheme, it decided to forge ahead and introduced the legislation on November 25.
But Ms Carnell said the government was running off on its own and had not waited for the full regulatory impact statement commissioned by the federal government in the last few months.
She urged the government not to "vote this thing through until you've seen an absolute business case in terms of what this is actually going to cost in the Northern Territory".
A spokesman for NT Environment Minister Karl Hampton said it was expected the Environment Protection (Beverage Containers and Plastic Bags) Bill 2010 would be passed in February.
The bill would outlaw plastic supermarket bags from July and introduce a 10 cent deposit on beverage containers as part of a cash-for-containers regime similar to South Australia's by the end of 2011, he said.