If you thought the special pleading about emissions trading was bad, courtesy of Mitch Hooke and the Minerals Council’s warnings of economic apocalypse today, you haven’t been paying attention to the somewhat lower-profile world of bottle recycling.

Today in Hobart the Environment Protection and Heritage (EPHC) ministerial council meets to consider, inter alia, a container deposit scheme to curb bottle litter.

Coca-Cola, which accounts for 10% of branded litter in the country, and drinks manufacturers like Lion-Nathan, which also account for a lot of rubbish, are fighting tooth and nail to prevent any sort of deposit scheme (like South Australia has).

As part of their efforts to stymie any such scheme — they and peak bodies like the Food and Grocery Council inevitably argue that the current “co-regulatory model” of controlling litter works well — have engaged in some of the most creative modelling seen from a rentseeker for a long time. Empty bottles are not the only rubbish coming out of this mob.

No surprise, really — Mitch Hooke ran the Food and Grocery Council before his Minerals Council gig.

The industry has conjured up something called the “inconvenience cost” of a container deposit scheme as part of its modelling, being presented to Peter Garrett and co today in Hobart, that purports to show that a container deposit scheme will cost nearly half a billion dollars per annum for Australians to take containers back and claim a deposit.

The “inconvenience cost”, which makes “carbon leakage” look like a rigorous and well-evidenced economic concept, would according to the industry costs $223m a year. The cost apparently arises from the inconvenience to Australians of separating recyclable and non-recyclable containers. Without the inconvenience cost, the net costs of such a scheme are negative i.e. there’s an economic benefit.

Inspired by Coca-Cola and the Food and Grocery Council, I’d like to propose an inconvenience cost of another sort. What’s the cost to Australians each year of the time spent reading press articles, hearing news bulletins, and reading associated documentation based on biased “independent” modelling generated by whingers and rentseekers trying to avoid paying the full costs of their activity or trying to prevent the ending of subsidies from which they benefit?

If five million Australians spend on average just over a minute a week reading or listening to such rubbish, that about one hour a year wasted. Based on an average income of $60,000, that’s about $150m of lost productivity.

This fully-independent modelling by an well-respected consultant — OK, me — shows that rentseekers and their consultants owe the rest of us more than a billion dollars over ten years.

I’ll take a cheque, thanks folks. Failing that, maybe you can stop churning out such rubbish.