The NSW Environment Minister James Griffin, MP for Manly, issued a media release on Saturday headed CHEERS NSW! and outlining an NSW EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) proposal to expand the state’s Return and Earn Scheme to include wine bottles at a cost of over $30m per year to struggling NSW wine producers, with no clear benefits to the environment.
NSW Wine Industry Association (NSW Wine) President Mark Bourne commented “The total lack of engagement from the NSW EPA and Minister Griffin is very disappointing. This ill-informed proposal, after zero consultation with industry, does not outline in any way how it will further drive a circular economy and has family-owned NSW wineries footing the bill to the tune of over $30m per year”.
This cost to the wine industry comes on the back of 4 very difficult years, with the industry battling the effects of drought, bushfires and smoke, COVID-19 shutdowns, floods, and crippling export tariffs into China. Make no mistake, jacking up costs for wine producers in the Hunter, Riverina, Southern Highlands, Orange, Mudgee and beyond – the majority of them small and medium sized family businesses – will send some of them to the wall.
To be clear, NSW Wine supports efforts to improve recycling, but expanding the scope of the CDS (Container Deposit Scheme) to include wine bottles just doesn’t stack up on any level. For example, why is the Government whacking one of our great export industries and regional employers with a giant tax when its own research tells them a fourth kerbside bin for glass, which is being rolled out in Victoria, delivers greater environmental benefits? And where is the data in the consultation papers outlining the true cost to NSW winemakers, which NSW Wine estimates to be over $30m per year.
What makes this proposal to expand the scheme particularly difficult to swallow is that it would amount to a de facto wealth transfer from small winemakers in the bush (family-owned wine businesses accounting for more than 75% of the total grape crush in NSW) to big business.
Ahead of the next state election, NSW Wine urges the Government and Opposition to put this plan in the trash can where it belongs. After the Minister presented the plan as a fait accompli, we call on the Government to go back to the drawing board and undertake genuine consultation with industry.
Mark Bourne, President NSW Wine P: 0409 902 982 E: firstname.lastname@example.org
Lee McLean, General Manager Australian Grape & Wine P: 0418 998 749 E: email@example.com