Rage against the machines: deposit points turned into dumping grounds

While Griffith continues to wait to for a reverse vending machine to deposit containers, Wagga machines are being turned into dumping grounds. 

The Kooringal Mall vending machine has had cardboard boxes, bottles and containers thrown beside it.

The controversial Return and Earn system began on Friday morning last week, with Wagga shoppers finally able to get a refund for cans and bottles that have seen price hikes of more than 10 cents at shopping centres due to retail mark-ups.

Griffith, however, is still waiting for a machine, while 188 have been rolled out in Sydney.

But Griffith’s Danny’s Store has offered to take non-alcoholic containers for customers while the state government tries to fix the botched roll out. The NSW Government is unable to advise when Griffith will get a machine. 

Under the scheme, people are supposed be get a 10 cent refund for every eligible item they deposit in the machine. 

One reason that people may be dumping rather than collecting is that the vending machines only accept containers that are uncrushed, unbroken and have the original label attached – so you need to ensure your recycling is in top condition. 

The mess at Kooringal left neighbouring businesses and managers unimpressed.

“Obviously it's disappointing that members of the public have decided to do this,” said Knight Frank agent Jill Toohey.

“It’s not anyone’s fault in particular but there’s always a risk that something like that would happen.”

Witnesses said the rubbish was left beside the Return and Earn kiosk on Friday evening before 8.30pm.

Reverse vending machine providers, Cleanaway TOMRA, were contacted and the mess has since been cleaned up.

Ms Toohey said Cleanaway TOMRA were responsible for maintenance and management of the kiosk but said she was pleased to see the kiosk gathering some traction.

“We’ve simply provided Cleanaway with the space but there’s a person down there assisting people with the machine and it appears as though more people are using the facility,” she said.

Rubbish aside, the venture is beginning to garner heightened community attention and more residents are using the facility. 

Monday afternoon saw a number of users bring large hessian sacks full of cans to the Kooringal facility to cash their refunds in bulk while others have openly voiced their support for the venture despite increased product prices.

Wagga resident Harry Smith was delighted with the system, saying he used the Gurwood Street facility to cash in 15 cans for the princely sum of $1.50 for Christmas fundraising.

“I think it’s a very positive thing for the town,” he said.

“It could be a wonderful way for kids to make some pocket money over Christmas.”