Credit: Peter Thoeny, shared under Creative Commons.

The Andrews government is asking for feedback on the final shape of Victoria’s container deposit scheme, with an increase in the number of collection points and an expansion of the scheme to include liquor bottles among the options being canvassed.

Back in February 2020, the state government committed to implementing a container deposit scheme (CDS) by 2023, with the enabling legislation passing through parliament in December last year.

CDS programs are now in place in all Australian states and territories, except for Victoria and Tasmania. The introduction of schemes in these holdout states marks the final step towards having programs in place across the nation.

This is despite serious proposals for the introduction of a CDS having been on the agenda for nearly a decade, with former Victorian Liberal premier Denis Napthine providing his backing to a national container deposit system as far back as 2013.

The schemes nationally were delayed mainly by fierce lobbying from the beverage industry, led by Coca-Cola which then sought to manage the CDS.

However, a potential national implication of Victoria’s consultation process is that Spring Street is looking at the possibility of raising the bar by potentially adding new types of containers to its program, such as glass wine bottles, or offering a higher 20 cent per bottle refund rate.

The state government is asking for feedback until 26 June through its Engage Victoria website about:

  • what kinds of containers are eligible
  • how much the refund amount should be for people returning containers
  • what the labelling requirements should be for products
  • the total number of collection points
  • what the opening hours of collection points should be

What the draft regulations say

The state government’s preferred option, in the draft regulations, is for a scheme that’s broadly in line with what the other states and territories offer, such as a 10-cent refund.

The following types of drink containers would be eligible, as long as they have a capacity between 150 millilitres and 3 litres:

  • non-concentrated fruit or vegetable juice
  • flavoured milk
  • beer
  • soft drink
  • mixed spirits

Containers that aren’t eligible include:

  • glass wine bottles
  • glass spirit bottles
  • juice bottles over 1 litre
  • cordial bottles
  • milk (other than flavoured milk)
  • concentrated fruit or vegetable juice
  • health tonics

Under this option, the Victorian CDS will have a statewide average of one refund collection point per 11,604 people. This would include a minimum of one collection point per 14,500 people in Melbourne, one per regional town of 750 people and one per town of 300 people in remote areas.

This would make it slightly higher than most other states and territories:

  • WA has one collection point per 12,439 people
  • NSW has one per 12,959 people
  • SA has one per 14,040 people
  • Queensland has one per 16,835 people

Scope for higher standards

Alongside the draft legislation, the state government has also released a draft regulatory impact statement that examines a number of options for improving the scheme, including by:

  • making glass wine and spirit bottles eligible
  • increasing the refund price to 20 cents
  • reducing the number of collection points to just one per 16,098 people 
  • making glass wine and spirit bottles eligible, increasing the refund price to 20 cents, and increasing the number of collection points to one per 9,932 people

The state government will discuss the proposals further a series of information sessions for industry, local government and the general public on 7 and 9 June.

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