Woolworths shopper 'penalised' with price hike for surprising reason

Supermarket customers seeing red over a hidden new cost.

Most Aussies want to do their bit for the environment, but a new container deposit scheme — which rewards recyclers with a 10 cent refund for every can and bottle they drop off — has hit a road bump after Woolworths customers realised they were being slugged at the checkout.

One disgruntled shopper made the discovery over the weekend and complained about the sudden price hike on a 20-pack of Nu Pure Spring Water bottles, which he bought for $10.50. "I paid $7.50 just nine days ago," he wrote on Reddit. "That's a 40 per cent price rise in just over a week."

Woolworths receipts
A Woolworths shopper was shocked by the sudden price hike on water bottles. Source: Reddit

Included in the post was an image of the customer's receipts from two different Woolworths stores in Melbourne. They show the price of the water was $7.50 on October 27, then $10.50 on Sunday.

While some Reddit users told the shopper to drink tap water and stop "whinging about a couple of dollars", others pointed out the higher price could be a result of Victoria's new container deposit scheme (CDS). As it turns out, they were right on the money.

Reverse Vending Machine from Victoria's Container Deposit Scheme
The Reverse Vending Machine is an important part of Victoria's Container Deposit Scheme. Source: Supplied

Recycling scheme drives up prices

Launched on November 1, the container deposit scheme aims to increase recycling while offering consumers a "convenient and accessible" way to drop off their used products.

"Victoria's Container Deposit Scheme is funded by the beverage industry," a spokesperson for the Victorian Government told Yahoo News Australia, "it will reduce litter by up to half and contribute to the circular economy through increased recycling."

It's understood the government expects beverage producers to pass on the cost of running the CDS to consumers, and that drink prices in Victoria are likely to rise as a result.

Woolworths confirms price hike

Woolworths has confirmed the CDS is affecting prices, with a spokesperson telling Yahoo the retailer has been "working through the implementation of the container deposit scheme with our supply partners".

"The shelf price has increased to $10.50 in line with the shelf price in other states that have already adopted container deposit schemes, which has been communicated to customers in our stores," the spokesperson said of the Nu Pure Spring Water pack, but added the item will be available on special "over the months ahead".

Shoppers voiced their anger at the recycling scheme's impact on drink prices. "I thought I'd like a refund scheme instead of just recycling all at home, but now I'm being penalised if I recycle at home and drinks are more expensive? I don't like it anymore," vented one customer.

Victoria is the latest state to introduce a container deposit scheme after South Australia in 1977, NSW in 2017, Queensland in 2018 and Western Australian in 2020.

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