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Cash for cans under threat

Friday, 15th January, 2016

Channing’s Bottle Yard manager Mitchell Channing says vending machines would be completely unsuitable for most people who wish to recycle their drink containers. Channing’s Bottle Yard manager Mitchell Channing says vending machines would be completely unsuitable for most people who wish to recycle their drink containers.

The city’s bottle yard has joined the chorus of discontent over a new State government plan which would see most people receive no money for their recycled containers.

In December, the Baird government released a discussion paper offering two schemes for container deposits in NSW.

The first would see consumers pay an additional 10c per drink and receive the money back when they recycled the empty container.

The second and more prominent option is a proposal developed by major beverage companies called “Thirst for Good”, which would see ‘reverse’ recycling vending machines installed where people could drop off containers.

Eight hundred reverse vending machines would be installed at 129 sites across NSW, however only 17 would be placed in regional areas.

People who recycle would receive no refund for their containers from the machine, instead the National Packaging Covenant Industry Association would provide $5m to nominated charities.

Community groups could receive a $300 return on their empty containers, but only if they were able to fill a caged trailer that would be supplied to the local council under the scheme.

Regardless of the incentives behind the program, Channing’s Bottle Yard said the model simply wouldn’t work given the peaks and troughs of the recycling industry.

He said the majority of people save up their containers then cash them in come Christmas time.

“Most people in town do that, it’s our busiest period, it’s manic,” said manager Mitchell Channing.

“People bring in bales of cans, can you imagine them trying to do that at a vending machine? It wouldn’t work.

“And the other thing is, people like cash. With cash they can go buy more drinks, buy Christmas presents, just do what they want with it.

“It will never work in a rural town, or any town between here and Sydney.”

Others have been far more scathing of the plan, with environmental group Boomerang dismissing it as a “dodgy alternative plan” and a “PR exercise”, while labelling the $5m allocated for charities as “completely inadequate” and “tokenistic”.

Meanwhile the Greens have launched a campaign for the government to install a proper container deposit scheme, similar to the one that operates in South Australia and offers 10c per container returned.

Greens MP and environmental spokesperson Dr Mehreen Faruqi said the “Thirst For Good” vending machine scheme would derail real action on litter reduction and recycling, and was the result of prolonged lobbying from beverage companies.

“The beverage industry has been trying to influence the NSW Government for some time to avoid any responsibility for managing the waste they produce. ‘Thirst for Good’ is a scheme that will continue down this line,” she said.

“We are encouraging the community to call for a strong financial incentive and a container deposit-refund of at least ten cents, with the onus on the beverage industry to fund the scheme. 

“It is vitally important that New South Wales makes the right choice ñ what happens here could ultimately influence what happens all across the country. There is decades of evidence that a refund container deposit scheme is the way to go.”

Dr Faruqi has created an easy to use tool to enable the community to make a submission to the government on the recycling issue at www.mehreenfaruqi.org.au/cds.

Public consultation on the issue is open until 26 February 2016, and the government’s discussion paper can be viewed at epa.nsw.gov.au/waste/container-deposit-scheme.htm.

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