Council suspends its collection scheme and activists ‘disable’ Coca Cola machines as NT loses container deposit court case

By ERWIN CHLANDA

 

The Northern Territory Government will ask the beverage industry to voluntarily continue the container deposit scheme following today’s Federal Court of Australia ruling that it is illegal, says NT Chief Minister Terry Mills (at left).

Meanwhile a group calling itself Out Of Order has begun sticking OUT OF ORDER notices on Coca Cola and Mount Franklin vending machines around the country “in support of the Northern Territory’s ‘cash for cans’ scheme,” says spokesman Katso.

“We are committed to keep disabling the machines until Coca Cola Amatil withdraws the legal action.

“Many notices have remained on machines for the three days since we started. We aim to directly affect Coke’s bottom line through this action but also by encouraging people who are disgusted by this move to boycott Coke products.”

He says dozens of stickers have gone up in most capital cities and there is interest in France and the USA in supporting the initiative.
Mr Mills says: “I will be seeking, at the very least, a continuation of the scheme for two months so that Territorians who have collected containers can have them redeemed.”

He says he is putting the industry on notice that the Government will be vigorously pursuing every avenue to ensure Territorians’ rights are not trampled on by big business.

The Federal Court of Australia today ruled the Container Deposit Legislation (CDL) is illegal under the Commonwealth Mutual Recognition Act.
“We will still seek an exemption under the Act for CDL and have gained support from all States and the ACT to do this through the COAG process,” Mr Mills said.
“The Territory Solicitor General will advise the Government as to whether there are proper grounds for an appeal, and if there are, then we will go down that path.
“If the scheme is brought to a halt, I expect that the price of goods affected by the decision to fall substantially, reflecting the previous price increases,” Mr Mills said.
“I will be briefing the Commissioner for Consumer Affairs to oversee this process.
“The packaging industry has always maintained that it can provide an effective alternative to our CDL scheme, now is the time to prove it by offering effective alternatives while approval is sought through COAG.
“I want to make it very clear that the Government is looking at ways to minimise the economic effect of this decision on those Territorian businesses which, in good faith, invested substantially in the recycling scheme.
“The Department of Business will work with these operators as we go through these latest changes.
“We have fought every inch of the way to keep a Container Scheme in the Northern Territory and I am disappointed by the Court’s decision.”

 

UPDATE TUESDAY 2pm

 

Alice Springs Town Council has today suspended the Council’s Cash for Wine & Spirit Glass Bottles scheme, due to yesterday’s Federal Court ruling on the Territory Government’s Container Deposit Legislation.
Mayor Damien Ryan said: “I’m very disappointed that Council has had to take this action.
“Both the previous Council schemes and the Territory Government scheme have had enormous community support here in Alice Springs, so this decision comes as a massive blow to both the community and our environment.
“The sooner an Australian wide Container Deposit Legislation is implemented, the better off all communities and our environment will be.” Said Mayor Ryan.
The Council’s scheme has been operating out of Territory Metals since October 2012.

 

UPDATE TUESDAY 2pm

 

The Arid Lands Environment Centre says the Cash For Containers scheme has proved popular with consumers with over 35 million containers returned in 2012.
Coca-Cola Amatil, Schweppes Australia and Lion Pty Ltd have been accused of bullying tactics and of actively lobbying against the scheme since its introduction by the Labor Government in January last year, says ALEC’s Jimmy Cocking.
“The Northern Territory is coming under national focus from this decision. We are receiving calls and emails from people interstate who have heard about it and are as outraged as we are. They want to know what they can do to help.”

The NT Container Scheme should be exempt from the Federal Mutual Recognition Act until a national container deposit scheme is legislated.

 

UPDATE THURSDAY 4:30pm

 

Alice Springs Town Council Mayor Damien Ryan is pursuing the Australian Food and Grocery Council (AFGC) for a more realistic commitment to work with Council to provide recycling options in Alice Springs.

“The AFGC has made commitments towards providing recycling options for Alice Springs, however their current offer is just not enough,” he says.

 

“There was a system in place that worked and the AFGC on behalf of their corporate container clients had lobbied to have this scheme removed, and now they further insult us with a token offer announced yesterday.

 

“I’m eager to work with anyone who wants to improve recycling rates in Alice Springs but this has to be a serious discussion around tangible benefits and outcomes, not tokenistic offers.

 

“I encourage the NT Government to take a strong stand on reinstating Container Deposit Legislation at next months Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting.” – MEDIA RELEASE.

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14 Comments (starting with the most recent)

NB: If you want to reply to a previous comment, start your comment with this notation: @n where n is the number of the comment you want to reply to.
  1. Posted March 10, 2013 at 5:07 am

    Here in South Australia we have had the scheme for 30 years and it works very well. What happens to us now?

    If you want to protest more, here are some more places to do it:
    This is Out of Order’s Facebook page:
    http://www.facebook.com/itsoutoforder?fref=ts

    And the page of Coca Cola Amatil
    http://www.facebook.com/CocaColaAustralia?fref=ts

    and Schweppes
    http://www.facebook.com/Schweppes?fref=ts

    Go for it … Let’s get this Out Of Order movement going around the country.

  2. Deborah Rock
    Posted March 8, 2013 at 11:56 am

    The companies involved all have corporate websites which provide contact details if you wish to make a complaint. If you’re thinking of adjusting your personal shopping habits, the websites also give a full range of their products.
    I’ve written to them.
    http://ccamatil.com/OurBrands/Pages/Australia.aspx
    http://lionco.com/brands/dairy-and-drinks/
    http://lionco.com/brands/beer-spirits-wine/ http://www.schweppesaustralia.com.au/Our-Brands.aspx
    By the way, an unusual pleasure to see all comments on an Alice Springs News article in agreement!

  3. Jay
    Posted March 8, 2013 at 9:30 am

    Schweppes and Lion Pty Ltd also fought this case alongside Coca Cola Amatil – don’t let them off the hook!

  4. Nick
    Posted March 7, 2013 at 4:45 pm

    I want to add my voice to the outrage I can see here. Prices went up, Coke / Lion Nathan raised their prices and got their money, people still brought coke and our street were cleaner. What’s the problem!

  5. Kevin
    Posted March 7, 2013 at 4:31 pm

    Stop buying their products, email the company telling them you have stopped buying and why.
    Coke has always been over priced anyway.
    How do you explain to kids that have been collecting for months for that little extra pocket money.
    I for one will not be buying any more Coke products.
    Love the idea of putting out of order signs on coke dispenser machines.

  6. Ugly BWOOCE MBA
    Posted March 7, 2013 at 2:28 pm

    Moi mates at Coke have got the right idea. No one important gives a rat’s about bloomin recycling, OK?

  7. Ray
    Posted March 7, 2013 at 1:21 pm

    Don’t forget Coca-Cola simply used the law that was available to them, to reduce their operating cost and therefore more profits to them. The question should be asked that if the government had an exemption from the Federal Act allowing the scheme to operate previously, why did they fail to apply for continuation of the exemption? Once again the NT Government (no matter which party) drops the ball. Let’s see if the price of Coke drops over the counter. If it does not, somebody (Coke or retailers) is profiteering, maybe that could be looked into by the ACCC.

  8. Spot
    Posted March 5, 2013 at 8:21 pm

    Congratulations coca cola on help making our towns our parks our children’s play grounds unsafe to use due to the now discarded unwanted cans that you are now making cheaper to discard into our communities.
    If this is an example of what is to come with dealing with American corporate companies that have a total disregard for the communities in which they trade, then we should be looking at other products we are buying from them and buy them from other countries that have some social conscience.
    So from all the pensioners, all the school kids and community clubs in the Northern Territory who have been collecting and being rewarded for cleaning up our towns, this is a case of you being Out Of Order.

  9. Daz
    Posted March 5, 2013 at 3:31 pm

    Well, I’ve just bought my last bottle of Coke ever! Up your’s Coke!!

  10. Posted March 5, 2013 at 12:07 pm

    Dear Editor,

    Re Coca-Cola taking our communities to court as a sign of commercial greed.

    Quite a few years ago I was one of the organisers of community events in Adelaide for the Adelaide Festival.

    One year, in the early 1980s, the opening ceremony of the Adelaide Festival was held on a very hot evening. It was expected that 120,000 people would attend. We ordered from Schweppes 120,000 drinks. Each was sold with a 5 cent deposit, which at the time was the amount levied. This represented $6,000 return funds. The organisers were able to sell the right to collect the cans to the Scouting Movement. Because of the value of the empty cans, each rubbish bin was guarded throughout the entertainment by the Scouts. They had to stop others from collecting the valued empties. The money involved was thus used in the community to provide professional entertainment during the festival and through the scouts, for the well being of South Australian Children.

    Later I designed and organised an Old Fashioned Picnic for the festival. With attendance of 65,000 people I employed a local Lion’s Club to run an “emu parade” to clean up the park. We collected a total of four, forty four gallon rubbish bins of rubbish. The Lions told me that the lack of rubbish was due to the deposit scheme and the educational program (Keep South Australia Beautiful) that went with it. They had noted the difference at such community events when the laws were brought in.

    In contrast, I was the organiser and designer of the Bicentennial Australia Day celebrations in Canberra. We had a concert at the conclusion of the event in Commonwealth Park on the banks of Lake Burley Griffin. The event went well but the following morning we had a sea of cans, broken bottles and rubbish totalling four and a half tons. It cost many thousands of dollars to clean the mess, money which went to a commercial company, taking it from the community. There was only expense to the community when it would have been a valuable community asset had the ACT had similar laws to those in South Australia.

    Companies, which oppose the laws which the Northern Territory and South Australia have successfully instigated and which should be national, oppose also the communities they use as commercial profit mining. They need to bear the shame of all the litter that lies on the streets of our cities and the roads of our nation. According to the newspaper reports about the failure of the courts to protect our environment, “Coca-Cola did not believe container deposits were the best way to improve recycling in Australia and would work with the government to find other ways”, their Mr Wagstaff stated. If they are so keen to be of such assistance, surely Coca-cola have had decades to find a solution in South Australia but they don’t seem to have found one. Taking communities to court is probably cheaper for them in the long run.
    Developing an attitude for recycling within the community is as important as the amount recycled.

  11. Hal Duell
    Posted March 5, 2013 at 10:19 am

    If CDL is illegal in the NT, why has it been allowed to operate in South Australia for so many years? Is it now to be stopped there as well?
    And if there is some problem with the Commonwealth Mutual Recognition Act, couldn’t this be fixed by making the legislation nation wide?
    It’s a good program. It cleans up a bit of rubbish, stops a lot of broken glass getting underfoot and provides a bit of extra cash for those willing to do the pick-up. The corporations would be doing themselves a favour by pulling their heads in on this one.

  12. D'Arcy Boulton
    Posted March 5, 2013 at 1:40 am

    Boycotted. At least Coca Cola Amatil has the right colour advertising on their bottles / cans. I’d be red faced too if I made such a shameful decision.
    I hope they come to an arrangement to support recycling, as opposed to seemingly adding to the problem rather than assisting with recycling.

  13. Denise Watts
    Posted March 4, 2013 at 8:54 pm

    This cannot be allowed.
    This American Company telling us we cannot recycle?
    Not on.

  14. Russell Frege
    Posted March 4, 2013 at 8:17 pm

    We have a deposit we pay on recyclables in Iowa, USA. It’s not that big of a deal. You get the cash back when you return your bottles and cans. It takes like two minutes when you return to the grocer. If you have only curb recycling there are municipal costs for collection and sorting. Plus, people who are poor or homeless pick up whatever is littered and return it for the cash (though, in my opinion, there are better ways to support the poor). I don’t get why this would be such a big deal.

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