Liquor retailers were left reeling following this week’s Liquor Stores Association of NSW (LSA NSW) industry network event, which left many questions unanswered on the impending Container Deposit Scheme (CDS).

LSA NSW brought together three of the CDS’ key stakeholders: Alex Young from the NSW Environment Protection Authority (regulator), Peter Bruce from Exchange for Change (scheme coordinator), and Ken Donley from Tomra-Cleanaway (network operator). The purpose was for the stakeholders to come armed with information that would assist retailers in preparing for the scheme, which they did not.

There were three major points of contention with the retailers in attendance: one was around the anti-competitive nature of Tomra-Cleanaway partnering with a major retailer to roll out the bottle collections points and the impact that this will have on independent retailers.

Another was the concern that consumers will take the currency they receive from collection points and spend it within the major retailer where they are returning their bottles – therefore bypassing the independents.

Giuseppe Minissale, the President of the Australian Liquor Stores Association (ALSA) told TheShout that this decision by Tomra-Cleanaway definitely raises some anti-competitive questions.

“I think there are some ACCC questions in relation to the anti-competitiveness of access to $1 billion worth of business on 1 December, is that not anti-competitive? And things that haven’t been addressed are people being under aged and people bringing back money and those sort of things that to me are really major questions that haven’t been answered.”

The third issue raised was the fact that the government will not be ready with its communication strategy to educate the community on why prices will be rising until November, at which point prices will have already increased.

Minissale added: “I think the government is leaving the industry exposed to consumer backlash by not taking ownership of the scheme, the government should front the community and tell them that beer will be going up and rising significantly and try to explain why that it’s going to be greater than the $2.40 than they would expect. And they should do that now and not on 1 November and not leave it to the industry to do it.”

L-R Michael Waters, LSA NSW; Alex Young, NSW Environment Protection Authority; Peter Bruce, Exchange for Change; and Ken Donley, Tomra-Cleanaway


Michael Waters, the Executive Director of LSA NSW told TheShout that it seemed there are still a lot of questions that the government stakeholders still cannot answer.

“The idea was for them to come equipped with the answers to these questions but it seems like there was still a lot of questions that they weren’t able or willing to answer, which was understandably going to rattle and frustrate the stakeholders that are really going to be on the receiving end of this.

“The communication plan is one significant element of this. If they’re going to be just starting to do their advertising campaign in November, by then suppliers will have already put up their prices and is a retailer supposed to absorb that for a month to wait until 1 November to give the public a month’s gratis on absorbing the message? I don’t know. I don’t know many retailers that could do that.”

As a part of the LSA NSW’s communication commitment to its members, the Association in conjunction with the Minister’s Office had prepared FAQs and point of sale materials to be launched at the networking event, which would assist retailers in informing customers ahead of the commencement of the CDS, but at the last minute the Minister’s Office kyboshed the launch.

“The ministers are leaving the industry, LSA and other bodies on behalf of their members with little choice than to take matters into our own hands and start preparing communication messages of our own. I can tell you that within a week we will have a poster,” said Waters.

“I had been promised that they would be launched today, so I got a photographer there ready to take photos of the materials and publish them on our website but that promise was rescinded as recently as 3pm yesterday afternoon, and what choice have we got but to take on that responsibility that the government should really be doing and do the communications ourselves. We will be going out and sending members some point of sale materials that they can print off and put in their stores.”

Minissale says that the CDS has been half-baked from day one and the community backlash will be aimed squarely at the retailers.

“This scheme has been half-baked from day one and it’s continuing along and the government doesn’t want to face up to the community to tell them about what is about to happen because they are scared of the backlash on the pricing in market. And the backlash is going to be aimed at the retailers, and every retailer should be suggesting to talk to their local politician because quite frankly, they are the ones to blame, not the retailers.”


Deborah Jackson

Deb joined Intermedia in 2015 as Editor of National Liquor News and Deputy Editor of The Shout. Since then, she has also worked as the Editor of Beer & Brewer and the New Zealand title, World of Wine....

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *