Following the Queensland Government’s bipartisan decision to pass the Waste Reduction and Recycling Amendment Bill last month, Queensland breweries will now face a new tax in the guise of a Container Refund Scheme.
Lead by the Product Responsibility Organisation that was established in November last year, the Container Exchange (CoEx) initiative is aimed at curbing litter and follows similar schemes established first in South Australia with relative success and then in New South Wales, where it has proved ineffective.
Beer Cartel’s recent Survey results show that “In stark contrast to South Australia where 64 per cent of people always take their bottles and cans to a collection point, just 17 per cent do so in New South Wales.”
“For most kerbside recycling is used (68 per cent), with an additional 12 per cent using both kerbside recycling and collection points.”
Western Australia is set to implement CoEx in 2020.
The Queensland Bill applies to “companies that supply eligible beverage containers”.
These companies will “be charged for the costs of running the CRS as a price per container sold by material type”.
“All Manufacturers will provide monthly declarations of the volume of beverages supplied into Queensland.”
“An invoice for their share of costs will be issued to Manufacturers based on the number of containers supplied in their declarations.”
“The amount payable by a Manufacturer to the Scheme will be equal to the volume of containers of each material type supplied by the Manufacturer in the previous month, multiplied by the Scheme prices for each material type.”
For Ballistic Beer Founder David Kitchen, CoEx will cost his Brisbane-based business approximately $2.50 per carton.
“The $2.50 can probably be absorbed by larger breweries but for us it’s definitely something we have to pass on.”
“We’re paying somebody to predominantly collect our cans when people throw them on the ground, so it is just a tax on top of our operation.”
The number one gripe with CoEx for David is that “it’s a tax on top of us and none of us are flushed with cash, so it’s going to have a big impact”.
“It may as well be just another small nail in the big brewers coffins too, I’d hate to think of the size of the bill XXXX have to pay.”
“So, it’s a massive imposition.”
As the Queensland head of the IBA, David says neither the IBA nor Ballistic are against the scheme, but said that its inequitable.
“It’s ok to throw a wine bottle, or a juice bottle, health drink bottle or a cordial bottle on the ground, but it’s not ok to throw a beer bottle on the ground.”
“All those other types of bottles are exempt from the $2.50 charge and that’s ludicrous.”
“If everyone is paying the bill, our bill goes down and it’s an equitable position for everyone.”
David said that he doesn’t believe the scheme has much to do with the craft beer industry and its consumers.
“The industry itself has really good green policies already, we all work really well where and when we can to recycle, reuse, repack.”
“So, it’s an imposition on an industry that is directly trying to be a very green industry.”
David also pointed to the Queensland Government’s poor execution of the scheme and said that Ballistic still hasn’t got the logo CoEx requires to appear on every beer container.
“Every brewery that has canning or bottling material already done, they’ve got to pay for new plates to get the printing done, they’ve got to go and print whole new bottles, they’ve got to get the design redon, it’s a massive imposition just getting that logo on to all of our bottles.”
“I just don’t see any good side of this at all.”
Owner of Slipstream Brewing Company Deale Stanley-Hunt told Brews News that he’s hoping there will be a relaxation on craft beer.
“It’s probably not going to happen but we live in hope,” Deale said.
“The wine industry isn’t affected but the craft beer industry is.”
Like David, Deale said that CoEx is going to be a cost imposition for his Brisbane-based brewery.
“It’s just a burden on small manufacturers, adding a lot of cost and time, and we don’t know if it’s really going to work.”
“Look at the disaster in NSW, look at the container refund places that have closed in NSW.”
Deale said that in a culture “whereby cans go out in curbside collections”, he is struggling to see how the scheme will benefit the general public.
What’s more, craft is such a small percentage of the market, that Deale said he is finding it hard to see how the scheme could really have much to do with the craft beer industry.
CoEx will cost breweries (cents per unit sold excluding GST), 9.9 cents for aluminium, 10.5 cents for glass, 10.6 cents for HDPE, 10.3 cents for PET and 10.6 cents for LPB.