Muswellbrook's Return and Earn reverse vending machine proves popular

MUSWELLBROOK’S Return and Earn reverse vending machine is a constant hive of activity and, in less than a month, it’s accepted 319,102 drink containers.

The reverse vending machine (RVM) was only installed on Sydney Street, in front of Pursehouse Rural and Barn Vets, last month and officially opened on March 15.

Similar RVMs at Woolworths in Scone and Singleton were opened in December and have respectively accepted 701,983 and 1,845,790 containers.

The RVM is part of the NSW Container Deposit Scheme (CDS) and each eligible container is worth 10 cents – but the trick is the container needs to be uncrushed with a readable barcode.

At Muswellbrook on Thursday morning, first time users Shane and Nia Thurston, of Denman, were interested to see how the system worked.

Mr Thurston said his teenage daughter had convinced him to keep their bottles and cans separate for the vending machine, and even had the app installed on his phone.

“Anything that makes beer cheaper is worth it,” Mr Thurston joked, though obviously in a serious manner.

One complaint from a patron was that the machine was always busy or full.

“We need another collection point in town,” the patron said.

Upper Hunter MP Michael Johnsen said he fought to get the promised RVM for Muswellbrook delivered as soon as possible and was delighted it was in a practical, easy-to-access location.

“People can choose to donate their refund directly to charities, receive a docket redeemable for cash at Muswellbrook Woolworths or an electronic transfer using PayPal at the machines,” he said.

Network operator TOMRA Cleanaway closely monitors RVM volume levels and receives an electronic notification as RVMs near capacity.

The Muswellbrook RVM is emptied twice a day.

On April 8, scheme coordinator Exchange for Change CEO Peter Bruce said more than 204 million containers had been returned to collection points which meant some $20 million had been returned to families and communities.

“The CDS is funded entirely by the beverage industry,” he explained.

“The scheme has been specifically designed as a cost recovery model, not a profit generating model.”

The Return and Earn website states there are currently 544 collection points across NSW.

For information and a full list of eligible drink containers see www.returnandearn.org.au