No cheer in pricier Christmas drinks: recycling scheme to add $5 a carton

WARNING: Kelly's Hotel Bottle Shop owner Mark Kelly said an alcohol price rise caused by the bottle and can deposit scheme will hit hard at Christmas. Photo: PHIL BLATCH
WARNING: Kelly's Hotel Bottle Shop owner Mark Kelly said an alcohol price rise caused by the bottle and can deposit scheme will hit hard at Christmas. Photo: PHIL BLATCH

A LIQUOR retailer is warning Christmas cheer will be more expensive this year, with a Government-mandated recycling program to add up to $5 to the price of a carton of beer or pre-mixed spirits.

The Return and Earn container deposit scheme will start on December 1, with most glass, cans, plastics and paperboard drink containers between 150 millilitres and three litres attracting a 10-cent rebate.

To fund the program, 10 cents will added to the cost price of eligible bottles and cans, while a yet-to-be determined administration fee will tack on a further five- to eight-cent increase to each unit.

On November 1 beer and spirits wholesalers will implement these increases, leaving retailers like Mark Kelly of Kelly’s Hotel Bottle Shop no alternative but to raise prices.

“If something goes up between 15 and 18 cents per unit, like a carton of 24 stubbies or 30-pack of cans, you’re talking about a $4 or $5 increase in cost price, before GST,” Mr Kelly explained.

“Obviously if someone is charging us $5 more there’ll be an increase at the back end for the business’s margin, so it’s a significant increase a month out from Christmas.

“It’s a terrible time of the year for it to come.”

More than 500 collection points, including 800 reverse vending machines, will open across the state on December 1.

Based on a government spokesperson’s statement there would be “a collection point in each regional town that has a population of more than 1000 people, and an additional collection point for every additional 20,000 people”, Orange can expect at least two locations to redeem their containers for cash.

By doing so residents would alleviate some of the impact on their hip pockets, but Mr Kelly lamented that less than three months out from the increase there was “no information about when, where, why or how people will be redeeming their bottles and cans”.

“There’s two things we know: it’s a 10-cent rebate and when it starts. That’s it, we know nothing else,” he said.

“There has been a spectacular lack of information.”

Environment minister Gabrielle Upton said the scheme would be a rewarding system.

“This is the biggest initiative to tackle litter in the state’s history and it will make a massive difference to the amount of rubbish on our streets, parks and waterways,” Ms Upton said.