Empty bottle on Bargara Beach. Photo: Max Fleet / NewsMail
Empty bottle on Bargara Beach. Photo: Max Fleet / NewsMail Max Fleet

Lion would seek to recover costs of bottle deposit scheme

A REPRESENTATIVE of one of the nation's biggest alcohol companies attacked a Senate inquiry in Adelaide on Wednesday, calling it "a wholly political fishing expedition".

Lion, which owns some of Australia's biggest alcohol and non-alcoholic drink brands, spoke to the inquiry, which is looking into the creation of a national container deposit scheme.

Such a container deposit scheme has been in place in South Australia since the 1970s, and last year led to the recycling of more than 80% of the state's plastic, glass and aluminium containers.

Lion's group environment and continuity director David Carter said the company was "likely to regard" the inquiry as a "wholly political fishing expedition".

He said the inquiry, which was also looking at price increases for drinks in South Australia and the Northern Territory, was looking at "manifestly weak and politically motivated" allegations.

Some allegations have been aired in the past that the big drink companies were raising costs to claw back lost revenues due to the recycling schemes.

Mr Carter said there was "no pot of gold", and under any container deposit scheme, the company would seek to recover the cost of the scheme.

The company has repeatedly denied they have any role in retail pricing of everything from juice to beer and wine.

In a submission to the inquiry, the company also highlighted the increased cost of such schemes to the industry, compared with "more efficient alternatives".

"If any conclusion may be drawn from the retail price increases experienced upon the introduction of CDL in the NT, it is that CDL is an extremely expensive policy," the submission reads.

"Conversely, those concerned by the cost impacts of CDL would be better to advocate scrapping these discriminatory, outdated and inefficient schemes rather than constructing wholly baseless allegations against those charged with implementing them."

The beverages industry is responsible for paying the costs associated with recycling drink containers in SA.

The SA Government's Environmental Protection Department also spoke at the hearing, highlighting that state's bipartisan approval of the scheme for more than 30 years.

In its submission, the state government showed the scheme had led to more than 609 million containers being recycled in the 2011-12 financial year.