Armidale man raises concerns over Inverell's Return and Earn machine

Why new recycling centres could become a rubbish problem

As Return and Earn machine gains popularity around the region, concerns surrounding dumping at some sites have been raised.

Armidale electrician, Rayne Nathaniel Single snapped a picture of the machine in the Inverell Woolworths carpark last Saturday, showing piles of cans and bottles left behind, after locals realised they weren’t accepted by the container deposit scheme. 

“I’ve seen it before,” Mr Single said, adding that the machines in Ballina and Glen Innes had similar problems. Although bins have been placed alongside the machine, rubbish remains piled up. 

“I took some myself the other day, and I had a dozen containers that either didn’t have barcodes or they weren’t accepted because they weren’t participating. You end up with half a bag and go ‘What will I do with this now?’”

Mr Single, who visits Inverell regularly, felt the location encouraged locals to leave their non-eligible containers behind, rather than dispose of them properly.

“The Armidale one, for example, is at the recycling centre. So I could place all my items in the recycling there that’s run by the council,” he said.

“I think if it was managed by the council at the recycling centre - if they actually managed and looked after it, you wouldn’t have that problem of dumping, really.”

As the Return an Earn scheme passed 28 million returns mark, the NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) released a statement outlining the containers that can be returned for the 10c refund.

Containers like these are eligible for the 10c refund.

Containers like these are eligible for the 10c refund.

Most drink containers between 150ml and three litres are eligible. This includes glass, plastic, aluminium, steel and some cartons. Wine bottles and spirits bottles are not eligible. The EPA said this was because research shows these drinks are more often consumed in the home and are less likely to end up as litter.

EPA Acting Chair and Chief Executive Officer Mark Gifford said it was a good idea for people using the system for the first time to check the list of eligible containers before heading out to their local collection point.

“The list of eligible containers has been created based on an analysis of the types of containers that are most often found in the litter stream, and it matches closely to other states with container deposit schemes in place, like South Australia and the Northern Territory,” Mr Gifford said.

“As more people across NSW get on board with Return and Earn, or continue to recycle through their local council collections, we expect to see a significant reduction in the millions of containers that are tossed onto roadsides, parks and waterways each year.”

Containers returned to a reverse vending machine or over-the-counter collection point do not need to be in pristine condition but should be empty and uncrushed, and have the label intact. This is to ensure the label can be scanned at the collection point and the container be confirmed as eligible for the 10c return.

Containers like these can not be placed in the Return and Earn machines.

Containers like these can not be placed in the Return and Earn machines.

The EPA notes that ineligible containers should be recycled where possible, or disposed of in appropriate bins.

Containers that cannot be deposited for a refund include:

  • Plain milk (or milk substitute) containers
  • Flavoured milk containers of one litre or more
  • Pure fruit or vegetable juice containers of one litre or more
  • Wine and spirit glass bottles
  • Casks (plastic bladders in boxes) for wine or water of one litre or more
  • Sachets for wine of 250ml or more
  • Containers for cordials and concentrated fruit/vegetable juices
  • Registered health tonics

 More information about eligible containers, local collection points and the scheme generally is available at the Return and Earn website.

This story Why new recycling centres could become a rubbish problem first appeared on The Armidale Express.


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