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Container deposits a looming threat to the wine sector

Friday 20, Nov 2020

The Container Deposit Scheme review continues, but changes that might impact the wine sector are yet to be finalised. 

The South Australian government commenced a review of the Container Deposit Scheme (CDS) with the release of a Scoping Paper in January 2019 and inviting comment. Although a follow-on Discussion Paper was expected later in 2019, this has not yet occurred. We understand that the Environmental Protection Authority’s consultations with stakeholders, including SAWIA, resulted in the need for further research into aspects including quantifying the flow of materials through the waste handling processes and the economic costs and benefits of the CDS. 

Recently, the EPA met with SAWIA and indicated that the Discussion Paper is likely to be released by the end of February 2021. The EPA also foreshadowed some of the likely policy settings options that may be included. These include some options to change the governance structure to adopt better practices gleaned from other States’ systems and increase transparency, and administrative changes to facilitate harmonisation across States. The EPA is also proposing to change the approvals and label registration fee system to a per unit basis, however little detail has been provided by which the cost impact might be estimated. 

The EPA has still not indicated any direction on potential changes to the amount of refund nor the scope of containers to be included, neither ruling-in nor ruling-out the potential of expanding the CDS to include wine bottles. 

SAWIA has observed significant pressure from certain interests within the waste sector and government for the scheme to be expanded to include glass wine bottles. If this occurs, it will have a profound impact on the wine industry in South Australia, with costs to wine producers estimated as high as around 30-cents per bottle as well as increased regulatory red tape for South Australian businesses. 

Glass wine bottles have been exempt from the container deposit system (CDS) in South Australia since its inception over forty years ago (1977), as they represent less than 0.04% of littered containers in South Australia. SAWIA supports the current exemption, and we believe that any proposal for change should be based on compelling and objective evidence that is informed by the views of the wine industry.

SAWIA continues to engage with government and the EPA on the review, and is seeking detailed views of members. 

For further information, or to convey your views, SAWIA members can contact Mark Gishen on 8222 9278 or mark@winesa.asn.au.