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Container deposit apathy

By Saturday 23 September 2023October 4th, 2023One Comment

Giles Cooke MW from Thistledown Wines has his say on container deposits.

I’ve seen a bit of chat on various channels this week about the implementation of the container deposit scheme in Queensland.

Most of that chat seems to be that it is unmanageable, ill-thought out and rushed.

No doubt, the intentions behind it, of reducing waste and littering, are laudable and few would disagree with that but the implementation risks causing more waste, more cost, more time and all for a goal that, arguably, could be achieved in other ways.

It all sounds horribly familiar.

When I’m not in Adelaide, my home is in Edinburgh, Scotland, and we have recently dropped the cudgels, put down our pens and closed the whatsapp groups having finally won a battle that, had we lost, would have seen container deposit schemes (called Deposit Return Schemes here) implemented differently in each of the countries of the UK, with Scotland being the first.

With the delays to the implementation to the scheme here, the administrator collapsed and the end result is that now there will be a UK wide scheme starting some time from 2025 onwards.

Glass is likely to be excluded, though this could change depending on which of those two charismatically challenged politicians, Rishi or Keir, get in at the next election.

In the end, it was a legal opinion, paid for by a small group of industry companies, that provided the argument that drew Westminster into the proceedings and stopped the scheme.

This action could only have been achieved by the coming together of industry in a way that I have not seen before.

We mobilised all sectors of the industry, there were different whatsapp groups depending on whether you were hospitality, production or retail.

There were open letters published in national newspapers, letters to all MPs, television interviews and debates and, eventually decisive legal opinion.

The chaotic implementation in Queensland needs to be countered by organised, unified action and the ignorance, inertia and apathy needs to disappear if the Australian wine industry is to play a constructive role in shaping a pragmatic, realistic solution that appeases those whose good intentions are currently being undermined by lack of industry insight or empathy.

In the case of the recent action in Scotland, it was one person that pulled everyone along but in Australia, whether it is one person or one industry body that galvanises, it needs to be done soon and it needs to be impactful.

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One Comment

  • Robert Kelman says:

    Is the wine industry really OK with 70-80% of its used bottles being dumped in Landfill?
    A small 10cent refund on a wine bottle will make a huge difference to the recycling rate of the industry – bring it up to around 65% nationally.
    No other recycling scheme has ever worked as effectively, and kerbside recovery has-its-limits.

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