The Queensland Government has made the decision to expand the state’s Container Deposit Scheme (CDS) to include wine and spirit bottles.

Under the updated scheme, glass wine and spirit bottles will be accepted for a 10-cent refund upon return to one of the 360+ container refund points across the state, from 1 November, 2023.

Natalie Roach, CEO of Container Exchange (which manages the program) said the change will benefit CDS participants and increase recycling efforts in Queensland.

“So far 2023 has been a record-breaking year for the Containers for Change program with more containers collected than ever before, and we look forward to the expansion, and returning even more cash back to Queenslanders whilst saving even more valuable recyclable material from ending up litter or landfill,” she commented.

However, Australian Grape & Wine has said that the expansion will not increase glass recycling, but will significantly burden local winemakers. The organisation’s CEO, Lee McLean, condemned the decision.

“This will not lead to a discernable increase in recycling, and it will not lead to a more circular economy. What it will lead to is an increase in the cost of wine at every pub, club, restaurant and bottle shop in Queensland and an increase in carbon emissions,” he warned.

As a result of the updated scheme, Australian Grape & Wine said local winemakers will face a cost of $20 million a year. If other states follow the same initiative, the organisation claims this will skyrocket to $100 million per year.

Queensland Environment Minister, Meaghan Scanlan, said the updated program was created after an “extensive consultation period” and the Government would be working with industry to implement it.

“We don’t want Queenslanders to pop the champagne too early, as we work with 360 container refund depots as well as wine makers and spirit distillers over the next six months to get ready for the change,” she said.

But McLean said it wasn’t this simple, and said: “[The Government] do not understand business and they have no idea of the administrative burden of implementing such a change at such short notice. They do not appreciate the impacts this will have on not just Queensland businesses, but businesses across the country.”

McLean urged the Queensland Government to release a cost benefit analysis detailing the costs of the policy and provide evidence that it will lead to a significant increase in glass recycling.

“This is a bad outcome that could not come at a worse time for our industry. Australia’s grape growers and winemakers are doing it tough. In recent years we have faced challenges of fires, smoke, hail, frost, poor fruit set, COVID-19 and the loss of our biggest export market. What we need from the government is support, not another kick in the guts,” he concluded.

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