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Small win for breweries in container deposit scheme

WA breweries have had a minor win in the State Government’s push to implement a container deposit scheme early next year.

And some State MPs are striving to give small beer producers greater relief when the regulations for the scheme are set in legislation.

During debate in the Legislative Assembly on Thursday, bill sponsor Reece Whitby, the Member for Baldivis, confirmed participating breweries will pay their scheme fees in arrears rather than face the heavy burden of contributing before they have sold their cans or bottles.

It will mean that breweries will only be billed for containers redeemed at official collection points, not when released for sale.

As not all cans and bottles will be taken to recycling points, breweries won’t have to pay a fee for all their packaged stock. Following the implementation of similar schemes in New South Wales and Queensland the recycling rate hit around 70 per cent. Initially in the NSW scheme, breweries had to pay the fees in advance.

Breweries will have to pay 10 cents plus a yet-to-be-determined handling cost per redeemed vessel – which could be as high as 2 cents when GST is considered. Those costs are expected to be passed on to the consumer, who will benefit from the recycling refund.

The fees won’t be determined until the regulations for the scheme are set later this year. But as the breweries won't be billed until the cans and bottles are returned for refund, the fewer the better for the local beer makers' bank balance.

But Whitby said there would not be a registration fee for all stock units, unlike the NSW model which enforced an $80 impost for each beer label. Breweries in NSW producing more than 12 different Stock Keeping Units a year faced more than $1000 in registration fees.

Member for Darling Range, Alyssa Hayden, also called for the regulations to take into account the plight of small breweries who were already facing tight margins on their canned and bottled products.

“The government is focused on supporting small business, creating jobs and trying to do the right thing for our economy, but small businesses will be burdened with more red tape by having to do the labels and be part of this system,” Hayden said during Consideration In Detail on Thursday.

“We are excluding wine bottles, but we cannot exclude our small microbreweries and cideries. Is the government’s intent to exclude small microbreweries and cideries from this scheme, like wine bottles?

“If so, it would be very helpful if it were in Hansard for when the regulations are done so that the people who make those regulations can read the debate we have had today.”

The Container Deposit Scheme legislation has passed through the Legislative Assembly and will now be debated in the Legislative Council before becoming law.

The scheme is expected to commence in March 2020.


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