Western Australian brewers are being urged to prepare for the official launch date of the state’s container deposit scheme.
WA is the fifth state to bring in a container deposit scheme with Western Australia Return Recycle Renew Ltd (WARRRL).
The scheme will launch officially from 2nd June 2020, and the Western Australia Brewers Association (WABA) is urging brewers to get on board and up-to-date.
Mike Morgan, sales manager at Perth brewery Blasta, as well as treasurer of WABA and board member of WARRRL, urged brewers to get up to speed and stay informed.
“The message from us is get involved now and early, we have this luxury of the lead-in time, there’s no excuse not to be ready and good to go,” he said.
WARRRL CEO Tim Cusack said that the first step for brewers is to register with the scheme.
“As in other states, first responsible suppliers who supply eligible beverage containers into Western Australia will be required to enter into a Supply Agreement with WARRRL, and report sales data prior to scheme launch and on a monthly basis… to enable suppliers to be invoiced for their share of the costs of the scheme,” he said.
Cusack said that next steps were for breweries to make the move to 10-cent labelling on cans, although he acknowledged that many who export to other states with existing schemes in place already have.
“First responsible suppliers will need to ensure that all of their products that are eligible containers are registered and approved on the container registry,” he explained.
He said that the WARRRL team are working with the state government on approving products already registered under other state’s schemes, but those that sell only in WA will need to do an initial registration.
Unlike the scheme in NSW, which charges brewers based on forecast container numbers, WA container fees will be calculated in arrears. Charges will be based on the number of containers sold, regardless of how many go through channels such as reverse vending machines, versus kerbside recycling, and not including those that are in cold storage or warehousing, for example.
“We had a lot of success from a WABA standpoint, that the scheme would be run in arrears, rather than reporting and paying upfront,” explained WABA’s Mike Morgan.
“You report and pay on your sold containers rather than what’s sitting in your brewhouse.
“So in June you report on how many vessels you sold in May, which will give us more accurate data flowing through. It’s definitely a good thing… reporting in arrears is really handy and more accurate.”
Over the coming couple of months, the cost for being a responsible first supplier will roll out. WARRRL will announce the costs, and in April/May there will be registrations for supplier agreements, he said.
By the time it launches, the scheme will have had nearly a full year’s lead-in time, and there will also be a 2-year transition period to include the 10c labels on containers, according to WARRRL’s Tim Cusack.
“After this transition period, all eligible containers sold in Western Australia must have a refund mark. To reduce confusion for the beverage industry, Western Australia has agreed to adopt the refund mark that is already used in other states and territories with container deposit schemes,” he explained.
He said penalties would be in place for non compliance under the Waste Avoidance and Resource Recovery Act 2007.
Mike Morgan said that the long lead time and transition period would ensure brewers did not create waste.
“From the brewing community, we wanted to make sure that if someone has printed cans and buy ahead of time, we want them to be allowed to get through those cans and adjust their cans down the track rather than dump them or anything like that.”
In the meantime WARRRL has been running forums and groups to discuss the scheme, Morgan explained.
“On a WA level, the 360 lids have been approved, which is fantastic,” Morgan explained.
“It is important to your brand and your beer, it’s an investment too – I’m assuming they’d be more expensive than a normal can so it’s an investment in the brand.”
Cusack said that approval for containers is at the discretion of the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation, who have confirmed that 360 lids are eligible in the WA scheme.
Other schemes have faced difficulties when it comes to reverse vending machines spitting out cans, sometimes due to wraps, stickers or other additions.
“We can’t and haven’t seen any issues with wraps etc,” said Morgan.
“If there was an issue with wraps, if they didn’t go through a reverse vending machine, there’s a lot of diversity in the WA scheme in the way you can return cans and bottles. So there will be a refund point where you can get out of the car and someone will hand count them, and give them money on the day.
“There should be multiple ways, so if there was an issue with a particular can, they could take it into another place where it might be more manually done and get their 10 cents. Money can be deposited straight into their accounts, as opposed to getting cash on the spot, or donate it to charities.”
WARRRL’s Cusack said that stickers and labels are permitted and “do not materially affect the recyclability of material”.
However the organisation has raised concerns about the use of non-recyclable material on polymer (PET and HDPE) containers, such as PVC label substrates, although this will be less relevant to the brewing industry.
When it comes to ironing out the details of the schemes, it has learnt from other state-wide CDS projects.
The Queensland and WA schemes are similar in their operation and diversification of the way consumers can return cans, and WABA is confident in the process so far.
“We’ve learnt a lot from our counterparts in Queensland and they’ve been open and lovely in sharing their experiences,” Morgan explained.
“We’ve been really happy with the way the process has gone, WARRRL is a not-for-profit, and it’s got a board of directors including our WABA seat, giving a voice to the WA brewing community and small manufacturers.
“The board is then made up of certain people in the community, giving them different voices, so there is this really wonderful diverse team that oversees the governance of it.”
In reference to the information leak by the NSW container deposit scheme which caused outrage in the brewing community, Morgan said that while WARRRL’s scheme coordinators included Lion and Coca-Cola Amatil, WABA had received assurances about data privacy.
“Information flow and privacy was something we certainly raised as a brewing community, and we felt comfortable with the assurances given and the seat on the board,” he explained.
“We have a voice on the board and can see the flow of information and there’s a lot of governance in place [to ensure this doesn’t happen].
“WARRRL have their feet on the ground and we’ve benefitted from that lead time, and any technical issues they might have had in other states we’ve been able to learn from and ensure they aren’t a problem in our scheme.”
Find more information on the WARRRL website.