Return and Earn container deposit scheme rolled out in the Upper Hunter but problems to be addressed

CASHING IN: Jess Boyd will be on hand to offer assistance over the weekend.
CASHING IN: Jess Boyd will be on hand to offer assistance over the weekend.

THE first of two can and plastic bottle recycling machines has been switched on in the Upper Hunter as the state government continues to roll out its Return and Earn campaign.

And, while there were some confused faces and a few glitches with the initial operation of the machine, chair of the Upper Hunter Shire Sustainability Advisory Committee Cr Sue Abbott said the initiative is a great start for the region.

“I am excited about the rollout, it’s a positive thing and a good scheme,” Cr Abbott said.

“But on the other hand I’m really disappointed that the accessibility for disabled people hasn’t been thought about.

“Clearly now standing here looking at it, it will be very difficult to use.

“So we have talked to the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) and they too are aware.

“They have said that the operator who is TOMRA Cleanaway know they have an obligation to make it accessible to everyone and that the EPA will ensure that they comply with that requirement.

“Looking at it, that could be with a ramp, but that will be up to the engineers.

ROLLED OUT: Cr Sue Abbott says she looks forward to the Reverse Vending Machines being made available to everyone.

ROLLED OUT: Cr Sue Abbott says she looks forward to the Reverse Vending Machines being made available to everyone.

“The EPA have explained that the nature and internal workings of the system means the deposit points can’t be lowered.”

The scheme, which offers a 10 cent refund for containers between 150ml and three litres, allows consumers to choose between donating their refund directly to selected charities or receive it electronically to their PayPal account.

They can also choose to use a voucher issued by the machine towards their shopping at Woolworths or simply redeem for cash in Woolworths supermarkets across NSW.

To receive the refund digitally you need to download the myTOMRA App and connect it to a registered PayPal account.

Containers should not be crushed or broken and must have the original label attached to be eligible for the refund.

Other concerns voiced by residents during the rollout included the location at Scone Woolworths car park, and a tax for drink manufacturers to cover the costs of the rollout.

Cr Abbott agrees the location could be potentially problematic.

“TOMRA Cleanaway have a retail partnership with Woolworths,” she said.

“I think that it’s problematic that it’s in the middle of a car park, and car parks can be dangerous.

“But then on the other hand this is a good scheme that will be really positive for NSW and for all communities.

“Obviously these initial hiccups have to be ironed out and the major one is with the disability access.

“It’s also really disappointing Muswellbrook shire has been completely skipped and that the next one to us is Singleton.”

However she said even with the many glitches, it’s still a step forward in relation to the community’s rubbish problem.

“It’s fantastic - we’re doing this and the community can give feedback and work out what needs to happen,” she said.

“So it’s a start.”

There will be a Return and Earn assistant available at the machine over the weekend and the operator TOMRA Cleanaway can be contacted on 1800 290 691 for feedback.

For more information on eligible containers visit  www.returnandearn.org.au