NSW Government recycling campaign increases costs all round, much to the disappointment of Muswellbrook Shire residents

A NEW NSW Government recycling initiative was rolled out last Friday but local drink suppliers aren't happy with the way the scheme was introduced, nor the fact Muswellbrook Shire has no recycling point.

The container deposit scheme (CDS) is called Return and Earn and each eligible container is worth 10 cents to recycle, bringing to mind images of the kids who used to trawl through bins and scour the grounds after events for cans to squash, collect and earn money.

But in this scheme, eligible containers cannot be squashed, the closest recycling points are Singleton and Scone and, to cover costs, drink companies have lifted prices with the average price of a carton of beer increasing from $3 to $5.

Muswellbrook Shire mayor Martin Rush said the CDS was a good environmental initiative worthy of support but had been “appallingly rolled out”.

“You can’t ask a community to pay 20 cents extra for every bottle or can of drink they purchase on the basis they’ll recoup 10 cents – particularly when there’s nowhere to return it to,” Cr Rush said.

“It’s typical of the state government, this should have been sorted out and introduced smoothly.

“This will also affect businesses from cafes and small stores to pubs and clubs.”

According to government-issued notices in bottleshops, price increases will primarily affect beer, premix, soft drinks and cider.

But, don’t forget the slabs of bottled water and cartons of soft drinks purchased in supermarkets, or the single can bought at the corner convenience store – especially with companies like Coca-Cola Amatil confirming it will apply an extra 13.59c (plus GST) to every container relevant to the CDS.

An EPA spokesperson said more than 200 collection points across NSW were available but there was currently no information available on an option for the Muswellbrook Shire. 

“The NSW Government is working closely with the network operator, Tomra Cleanaway, to continue rolling out collection points,” the spokesperson said.

“This is just the start of the roll out – many more sites are currently being finalised.”

The spokesperson said more than 500,000 beverage containers were returned to Return and Earn reverse vending machines across the state by lunch time on Sunday since the scheme kicked off on Friday. 

According to government statistics, drink containers make up 44 per cent of all litter volume in NSW and cost more than $162 million a year to manage with the aim of reducing the volume of litter by 40 per cent by 2020. 

Most 150ml to three-litre beverage containers are eligible for the 10 cent refund at an approved NSW collection point, provided they are made from glass, plastic, aluminium, steel or liquid paperboard. 

Containers need to be empty, uncrushed, unbroken, and have the original label intact. 

Wine, spirits, cordial and plain milk containers are generally not eligible.