Woolworths has urged against introducing a state-wide container deposit scheme in Western Australia, warning it could be forced to increase prices on some products by 60 per cent to compensate for the cash-for-cans plan.
The supermarket is already under fire after the plastic bags – a move that’s saving them and rival Coles a combined $170 million per year. They’re also making an annual profit of $71 million by charging people 15 cents per reusable bag, according to a study conducted by Queensland University of Technology.
In a submission outlining its concerns about the container deposit scheme (CDS), expected to roll out in 2020, Woolworths wrote that it would be forced to increase prices on some drinks products in WA to cover the cost of running the cash-for-cans scheme out of its stores.
Under the scheme, consumers will get a 10-cent refund if they bring their empty drinks containers back to the supermarket for recycling, rather than throwing them out.
The supermarket said if it’s forced to participate in the plan a 24 x 600ml pack of Woolworths water would rise from $6.00 to $6.60 and $1 drinks could also rise by 15 cents to $1.15.
“The CDS will have a significant cost-of-living impact on our customers,” Woolworths government relations manager Richard Fifer wrote. “Based on an increase of 15 cents per item, a 24x600ml pack of Woolworths still water will rise from $6 to $9.60, which is an increase of 60 per cent.”
A Woolworths spokesperson told Starts at 60: “We stand by the evidence provided in our submission to the WA Government on the Container Deposit Scheme in October 2017.
“Since then, there has been constructive engagement between industry and government on the proposed design and implementation of the scheme. If this constructive approach continues, we trust the consumer costs associated with the government’s scheme can be minimised.”
The company said its experience with similar schemes in South Australia, Northern Territory and New South Wales showed the “vast majority” of beverage containers were still returned through kerbside recycling, “reflecting the low engagement consumers have in seeking a refund”.
In April, The Australian reported the five biggest drink manufacturers — Coca-Cola Amatil, Carlton United Brewers, Lion, Coopers and Asahi — were pocketing $34 million a month in unclaimed “deposits”.
Queensland will introduce its own container deposit scheme in November.
Response to Woolies’ submission wasn’t too favourable on social media with shoppers already attacking to store and accusing it of a “money grab”.
“All you think about is profit margin,” one woman wrote on Facebook. “Recycling should be mandatory on all sold items that can be recycled and we should be doing more.”
“What lunacy! The maths just doesn’t stack up,” said another.
“The pricing of our 15 cent reusable plastic bag reflects the cost of supply and associated operational costs,” the Woolworths spokesperson concluded.