Opinion: Time to learn from our backward neighbours across the border

Imagine this as alternative to frustratingly feeding bottles through a machine …

The staple in almost all backyards is the hessian wool bags full of cans, topless plastic bottles and glass.

Families, pensioners, councils – they’re all involved with community recycling, knowing the effort in hoarding and processing rubbish is a fruitful one.

Sporting clubs and volunteer groups even make a day of it, usually on a weekend, dropping in on members and supporters offloading their rubbish for a good cause.

Team bonding never came easier than the process seeing 20-odd blokes drive around town with their utes and trailers, collecting used bottles and cans from a generous community.

Especially considering the funds inevitably cover a cautiously generous end-of-season footy trip to the glitz of a sleeping regional centre.

The ease of collecting a refund and earning the pocket money reward makes the effort a no-brainer.

Locally-employed casual workers stationed at basic recycling depots empty the cans and bottles into a sorting rack, where they’re skillfully tossed into corresponding colour-coordinated bins, which makes for a swift and entertaining interim.

The reliance on unskilled labour also means almost anything made of aluminium or glass can be refunded for cash without the need of a barcode.

More importantly, local employment and money goes into local pockets and offers a far more profitable incentive to maintain a method standard its users appreciate – something beyond the skills and intelligence of machine and computer-operated systems.

And so too our state politicians it seems.

It’s not impossible though – this recycling refund utopia has been a instilled way of life in South Australia since 1975.

Often mocked by the eastern states as a backwater, SA cops an unwarranted status as being blissfully ignorant and decades behind the progressive cities of Melbourne and Sydney.

How ironic such a fool-proof and proven system of recycled refunding comes from such a place, and continues to provide an example of how it’s supposed to be done almost half a century later.

SA's scheme is said to employ upwards of 5000 people across the state, and was declared a heritage icon by the National Trust of South Australia in 2006.