Beverage industry welcomes NT Container Tax ruling

The Australian Food and Grocery Council (AFGC) has welcomed the Federal Court's finding that the Northern Territory container tax doesn't apply to beverages manufactured in other states.

It was found that the Northern Territory Drink Container Deposit Scheme substantially contravenes the Mutual Recognition Act 1992 (Cth) after three beverage giants – Coca-Cola Amatil, Schweppes and Lion – challenged the legal validity of the scheme.

This effectively means that the container tax doesn't apply to beverages manufactured in other states but sold in the Northern Territory.

CEO of the AFGC, Gary Dawson, said the judgement demonstrates that the NT scheme is flawed.

"Industry reiterates, and has made numerous approaches to the Northern Territory Government, that there are better, cheaper and simpler solutions to reduce waste and boost recycling that don't cost consumers and are easy to implement. The AFGC and its members remain ready to work with the government to roll these solutions out across the Territory," he said.

Dawson said the scheme has increased grocery bills for consumers, many of whom are already recycling and "doing the right thing", and has been plagued with commercial disputes and low participation rates.

"The government's own published results show that more than two-thirds of drink containers sold into the Territory have not been returned and are still ending up in landfill or as litter.  For all the expense and inconvenience, the scheme is clearly not delivering for the environment," he said.

CCA to drop prices
Following the ruling, CCA announced it will be reducing its prices in the Northern Territory while at the same time working with the state's government and Keep Australia Beautiful to minimise all litter and expand recycling projects.

CCA said the NT scheme has been an "environmental failure" with just one out of three containers sold being recycled, well below the national average.

A statement issued by the global beverage giant reiterates its commitment to recycling and minimising its environmental impact.

"CCA has invested $450 million into technology to produce lightweight bottles, and in fact now makes the lightest weight PET plastic bottles in the global Coca-Cola system, and which has enabled us to reduce the carbon footprint of our PET packaging by more than 20 percent," the statement reads.

CCA has been lobbying against a similar scheme in Wesern Australia where beverage manufacturers are charged a levy for each can or bottle they produce, and consumers are paid a small amount for handing containers in to recycling points.

Its opposition to such schemes has, however, led to criticism from environmental groups including the Conservation Council of WA, which has accused CCA of putting profits ahead of community concerns.


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