13 March 2013 – The Senate’s vote today to support continued operation of the Northern Territory’s Cash for Containers program was a welcome breakthrough, after Coke blocked the scheme in court two weeks ago the Boomerang Alliance said.

“Coke’s action in the court was deplorable and has led to widespread community outrage,” national convenor of the alliance Jeff Angel said.

“No other scheme could have achieved recycling and litter reductions to the tune of 54million beverage containers in just one year,” Mr Angle said.

“We understand that moves to reinstate the NT scheme are going well at COAG [Council of Australian Governments] level.

“Despite all the misleading statements from the Food and Grocery Council, Coke and other bottlers – once a scheme begins and people see the environmental, economic and charity benefits – it’s a popular winner.

“Coke’s actions have put local businesses and jobs at risk and if the scheme ceases, the litter will just start building up again along the roads, in creeks, bushland and the ocean.”

Mr Angel said about 8 billion beverage containers find their way to landfill each year ­– 15,000 a minute.

According to a recent article in The Conversation  the 2012 Clean Up Australia Day Rubbish Report shows that plastics made up just 28 per centof total rubbish collected in South Australia, whereas in NSW and Victoria, where there is no CDL scheme, plastics amounted to 38 per cent and 34 per cent respectively.

The article continued:

After the introduction of the Northern Territory’s CDL scheme last year, multinational beverage giant, Coca-Cola Amatil (CCA), announced that it would mount a legal challenge against the scheme. The reason provided by the company was that it didn’t want to see Territory households pay up to 20 cents extra for drinks when the deposit was factored in along with the administrative charges for the scheme.

Such concern for struggling families by one of the world’s largest corporate giants was touching, in the same way as a crocodile’s concern for a lone swimmer in a Kakadu waterhole is touching.

As well as Coca-Cola and its diet variations, CCA also owns Fanta, Mountain Dew, Lift, Sprite, Mother, Powerade, Pump water, Mount Franklin water and the Kirks and Becks brand drinks. Its share of the Australian soft drink market is around 56%, as well as 45% of the sports drink market and 25% of the bottled water market. At stake is not the household budgets of Territorians, but the profit margin of the company if consumers respond to a price rise by buying less of the product.

The legal grounds for the challenge was the Commonwealth Mutual Recognition Act 1992. The Act was passed in order to ensure that goods and services are provided in all state and territory jurisdictions under the same conditions.

The federal court found that as CCA is selling drinks in containers, the drinks, and not just the containers, are subject to the ten cent deposit. Therefore, as other states – with the exception of SA whose CDL is exempt under the Act as it was in operation prior to the passage of the Act – do not have CDL, then the Northern Territory’s scheme places a condition on drinks sold in that jurisdiction that does not exist elsewhere.

In the wake of the court decision, industrial sabotage activist group, Out Of Order, responded by putting “Out of Order” signs on CCA vending machines in all capital cities. This action has the potential to affect CCA’s profit margin far more than the implementation of CDL in Australia’s least populous jurisdiction.

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