The NSW Container Deposit Scheme (CDS) kicks off in one month’s time, but in order to create funds to pay consumer refunds from 1 December, suppliers are being charged scheme running costs from today.
As TheShout has previously reported, Scheme Coordinator, Exchange for Change (EFC), revealed its expected running costs for the first three months of the scheme in August. EFC also said that it is committed to running a low-cost and effective scheme, but there has been very little information coming from the NSW Government to consumers about the costs, and the fact they will be the ones paying for this Government initiative.
Brett Heffernan, CEO of the Brewers Association, told TheShout that he believed the Government should have been more proactive in telling consumers about the costs associated with the scheme, instead of effectively leaving it to those on the front line.
“From 1 November, the price to consumers on all eligible container products will increase as per the design and intent of Government’s legislation,” Heffernan said.
“It is clear that, to date, the public has not been well informed about the Government’s scheme, which will see costs on containers attract a 10 cent deposit and a handling fee to cover the administration and operation of the Scheme.
“I suspect that consumers will be asking more questions after 1 November when they start to notice the price rises. It would have been a positive move if the government had provided some consumer advice to alert people ahead of the price increases, but that is a matter for government.”
Since it was set up in July, the Return and Earn Twitter account has sent 44 tweets relating to the CDS, with not one of those informing consumers that they would be the ones paying for the scheme.
Earlier this week, TheShout spoke to one industry insider, who agreed with the sentiments of Heffernan, and explained why they thought the Government had been quiet so far on the scheme’s costs.
“The Government clearly wants this to be a positive environmental message rather than a consumer impact one, but that’s really not helpful. There’s no information on why the charges are starting a month before the scheme or on all the work the industry has done to try and keep the costs down,” TheShout was told.
Executive Director of Liquor Stores Association New South Wales, Michael Waters, has also been critical of the fact that the Government has left it to those who will be interacting with customers to explain the costs.
“Unfortunately, NSW retailers are at the coalface and will be the ones copping the backlash from customers over this very complex and poorly communicated piece of legislation,” Waters said.
“As the ACT, QLD and VIC do not yet have a deposit scheme it will also be confusing for consumers and problematic for retailers and the government to manage, particularly around these border communities.
“The fact of the matter is, this scheme has been rushed through – we’ve been urging the NSW Government to get a public education campaign up and running, but they clearly don’t want the community to know what the real cost impact on the average consumers’ hip pocket will be.”
The LSA has provided communication materials to itsmembers to help with explaining the scheme’s running costs to consumers.
TheShout has contacted the EPA with a view to publishing its response to these claims on Friday.