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Recycling let down

Thursday, 31st July, 2008

Locals won't be able to redeem recyclable beer bottles in Broken Hill soon because an SA company has decided to stop buying them.
City Council is going into bat for the Channings Bottle Yard, which is facing financial hardship over the change. Council will also seek to ensure people aren't being ripped off.

Locals have long been able to cash in their recyclable bottles at the yard and redeem a five cent deposit. While there is no redemption scheme running in NSW, the bottle yard sells recyclables on to two SA companies.

The deposit is rising to ten cents from September 1, and this has led one of the companies to say it will no longer accept recyclables from Broken Hill.

Owner of the bottle yard, Adrian Channing, said the company had claimed Broken Hill buyers were not paying the deposit in the first place, and so it would no longer buy from the city as it had done for 30-odd years.

 "They said that if we weren't paying the deposit, they shouldn't have to give it back," said Mr Channing.
That company bought beer cans and stubby bottles, so these items will not be redeemable at the bottle yard from August 30.

The second company will still accept Broken Hill bottles, so softdrink cans, plastic bottles and milk cartons will be redeemable for the ten cent deposit.

"If people have beer bottles and stubbies they want to bring in, they've got until August 30," Mr Channing said.

Administrator of City Council, Ken Boyle, met with Mr Channing yesterday. He intends to make representations to the company in question on the yard's behalf.

He will also approach the State Government to make sure locals aren't being ripped off, as it is unclear whether residents were paying the deposit or not, as drinks sold in the city were sourced from SA.

"If we are not paying the deposit, then the average man on the street should be paying less for a carton of beer," he said.

Mr Channing said the bottle yard would stick it out.

"We're not shutting down," Mr Channing said.

It was touch and go this past week, Mr Channing said, as he waited to see if either SA company would accept his wares.

"We're a little bit better today now we've heard from both companies," he said.

"There was the possibility of it being a bit diabolical here, and five fulltime guys would've lost their jobs.

But with recycling of beer products making up about half of the yard's business, Mr Channing said they may be forced to down size

"As it is now, we still might have to let a couple go. We've got to see how it goes," he said.

"We've got support from the Broken Hill Liquor Accord and we're trying to put pressure on the breweries to put the deposit on their beers.

"Otherwise it's going to be a Council problem. People aren't going to bring their beer bottles to me - they're just going to get thrown away."

Mr Boyle said last night that Council was about to conduct a ten-yearly review into the city's garbage program.

"We will be looking to possibly include kerbside recycling in that, so that if it comes to it, the bottles will not end up in landfill," he said.

One group heavily reliant on using Channings Bottle Yard are the Scouts and they would be hit hard by a closure, said local leader Kevin "Skip" Francis.

He said scouts could lose up to $2,000 a year if they can't cash in locally what they collect during their annual bottle drives.

Mr Francis said up to three bottle drives are held yearly and the generosity of the public helps raise between $1,500 to $2,000.

The money is used to help run the organisation and scouting activities.

"It's very important," said Mr Francis.

"Without that, where are we going to get that money elsewhere? It's used for camps, for tents...for everything we do.

"It helps run our organisation."

He said it would be impractical for scouts to take the bottles and cans to Adelaide.

It may mean the end of scout bottle drives.

"I don't think we would be able to do it. What's the use of collecting them if they can't  take them away?"

There are about 36 children in the local scouts.

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