Return and Earn rollout in the Bega Valley overshadowed by unanswered questions

Will you be dropping of your containers to the reverse vending machine installed on the rooftop of the Sapphire Marketplace in Bega on Friday?
Will you be dropping of your containers to the reverse vending machine installed on the rooftop of the Sapphire Marketplace in Bega on Friday?

On Friday, containers are scheduled to start flowing through the NSW government’s Return and Earn reverse vending machines. 

If you’ve seen the dancing wombat on your television during commercial breaks, you’ll know that for each eligible container you put into the vending machine, you’ll get 10 cents back.

Return and Earn is celebrating the machines as an Australian first, others may say it’s just a modernised approach to the container deposit scheme of South Australia which has been running since 1977. 

The intention is to clean up 40 per cent of NSW’s litter by 2020, but some are dirty about how the Return and Earn scheme is being rolled out.

NSW Environment Minister Gabrielle Upton said 200 collection points would be operational across the state by Friday, but that is a great deal shy of the 500 originally promised. 

In the Bega Valley, a collection point has been spotted outside the Bermagui Woolworths and another in the rooftop car park of the Sapphire Marketplace in Bega. 

Are either of those a viable option for recyclers living in and around Merimbula? How many eligible cans and bottles would be required to make the trip worth your while?

Woolworths is shaping up to be the winner in this new scheme. Its retail partnership with Return and Earn’s operator TOMRA Cleanaway ensures 180 of the collection points are at or near a Woolworths supermarket. The obvious advantage is multiple trips by consumers to their local Woolies. And Return and Earn refunds can be claimed as a credit voucher for your groceries.

Perhaps the new Merimbula development will take one on once complete?

Which would make drink suppliers the losers. Each class of drink container supplied in NSW must be granted approval from the Environmental Protection Authority. An application fee of $80 applies for each class of container, meaning each size and style must be submitted individually. 

And we can only hope there will be ample recycling bins set up beside the collection points to dispose of the containers the machines reject.

Reverse vending machines will only accept containers that are uncrushed, unbroken and have the original label attached – a big ask for your rubbish, so ensure your recycling is in top condition this week.