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Container deposit scheme a shambles

Geoff Helisma

The NSW Government’s container deposit scheme officially starts this Friday December 1, but in the Clarence Valley no one has a clue.

The government’s returnandearn.org.au website spruiks that people can continue to “put eligible containers in your kerbside recycling”, which will result in “the refund [maybe going] towards improving waste services in your community”.

Further, the website’s map of collection points’ roll-out merely states: “details coming soon.”

However, despite meeting with representatives from Return and Earn network operator Tomra Cleanaway on November 7, Clarence Valley Council (CVC) is none the wiser about how it will interface with the initiative.

Meanwhile, consumers have been paying the extra for beverages contained in the affected containers since November 1.

Industry publication drinksbulletin.com.au put it this way in a November 14 story titled Retailer fury as CDS confusion continue.

“Less than two weeks until the NSW CDS scheme rolls out, retailers are still frustrated by both the lack of information and collection points,” the story’s lede states.

“There is still no map or list available of collection points, despite promises there would be more than 500 collection points across NSW with 85 per cent operational by December 1.”

At the time of writing, returnandearn.org.au last communicated with the media via release on November 10, declaring “Paypal to deliver secure, digital Return and Earn funds”.

Peter Cox, the proprietor of Maclean Cellars, is so frustrated he has rung the ombudsman, and the EPA which he says has not returned any of his calls.

He said the November 1 price rises have “directly affected sales”.

“They are down and the people are cranky and confused, and my staff have been abused,” he said.

“It’s going to affect employment – if my sales are down I’ve got to lose staff.”

According to the EPA’s website, the “collection points will be established by … TOMRA Cleanaway … across the state, including priority collection areas in metropolitan and regional locations”.

“The state has been divided into seven zones, and the Network Operator is responsible for meeting collection targets in each zone,” the website states.

“Collection points will include more than 800 reverse vending machines, and may also include local shops, depot sites and recycling centres.”

Despite the scheme’s clunky implementation, it’s business as usual for NSW Environment Minister Gabrielle Upton.

“People returning eligible containers will be able to donate their refunds to the Cancer Council, St Vincent de Paul, Surf Life Saving NSW and Planet Ark at reverse vending machines from 1 December,” she announced in a November 22 media release.

“Our first four donation partners make incredible contributions to communities across the state – giving people an option to donate their refunds to these four organisations is a great way to open the scheme,” Ms Upton said.

Where or how people in the Clarence Valley can do this, though, appears to be not much more than a thought bubble.

More information on how the scheme is proposed to operate can be found at returnandearn.org.au

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