Coca-Cola Amatil gears up for court battle with Australia's Northern Territory government over beverage container refund program

LOS ANGELES , September 13, 2011 () – Coca-Cola Amatil Ltd. is bracing for a fight with the state government of Australia’s Northern Territory over the possible introduction of a drink container refund program, asserting that such a program would be in violation of the country's Mutual Recognition Act, News Limited reported Sept. 13.

The beverage company said it opposes to the container deposit/refund scheme because the Sydney-based company sees it as an additional tax on their product that could hurt sales. The proposed law -- planned for January next year -- involves a AU$0.10 (US$0.10) refund on a variety of empty bottle and can containers purchased in the Northern Territory.

Alec Wagstaff, a Coca-Cola spokesman, said in a radio interview that the beverage producer is planning to challenge the proposed law in court on the principle that it would violate the federal Mutual Recognition Act that provides for the legal sale of a product in one state if that product is legal to sell in another state, News Limited reported.

News Limited noted that for decades a similar program has been in place in another Australian state, South Australia, but it's exempted from MRA compliance because the state's laws are part of a litter management strategy.

The Northern Territory government is ready to face off in court over the program, according to NT Environment Minister Karl Hampton.

Coca-Cola Amatil believes the best way to increase recycling rates is to make it easy for people to recycle when they're away from home. It pointed to a $1.2 million investment it made in recycling infrastructure this year in public locations intended to boost recycling rates, saying that this strategy is more effective and cost-efficient than a deposit/refund program.

The primary source of this article is News Limited, Sydney, Australia, Sept. 13, 2011.

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