Ross Elliott, owner of Danny’s Store, has decided to help out Griffith residents hurt by what he calls the “absolute debacle” of the NSW Government’s botched container deposit scheme, Return and Earn.
For the past month, Griffith beer, soft drink and cider drinkers have been paying 10 to 20 cents extra for their bottled beverages.
The trade-off was supposed to begin on December 1, when under Return and Earn, people were to earn 10 cents for every eligible drink container they hand in to designated collection points.
But while the NSW Government looked after Sydney – where there are now 195 collection points up and running – they forget about regional areas like Griffith.
As at December 1, the closest collection point for Griffith is a 45 minute drive away at Leeton Woolworths.
Mr Elliott has pitched in to help.
“If you come to my shop to buy something, I’ll let you drop off your soft drink, milk and water bottles and give you 10 cents for each,” he said.
He’ll then deposit them to a collection point if and when the NSW Government eventually organise one in Griffith.
Mr Elliott said his mobile food van business will do the same, but he is unable to accept alcohol bottles.
Griffith pubs and bottle shops have confirmed that residents have had to pay extra for their drinks over the past month. A carton of beer has gone up by around $3 to $4, while a bottle of beer or cider at the pub is likely to cost you about 20 cents more.
While Sydney residents get their compensation, Griffith continues to wait. The NSW Government’s Environment Protection Authority (EPA) was unable to provide information on when Griffith collection points will be ready.
Labor spokesperson for the Western NSW electorate of Barwon, Daniel Mookhey, said regional residents had been let down.
“It’s a botched roll out and there are no excuses. The government has missed a self-imposed start date and now the Minister has gone to ground and won’t answer any questions,” he said.
“It’s not fair on the people of NSW. If you are in Orange, Bathurst or Dubbo, you would be entitled to ask why you don’t have a return point yet.
EPA’s national office provided the following comment:
“More than 200 collection points across NSW are available online. The NSW Government is working closely with the Network Operator, Tomra Cleanaway, to continue rolling out collection points. This is just the start of the roll out – many more sites are currently being finalised and will be added to the map on www.returnandearn.org.au as they are made available”.
Under the scheme, containers are supposed to be deposited in a “reverse vending machine”, which is the opposite of a drink machine. You place your empty eligible drink container into the machine, the container is scanned to verify its eligibility and you receive a refund.
The vending machines will only accept containers that are uncrushed, unbroken and have the original label attached – so you need to ensure your recycling is in top condition.
Containers are also supposed to be able to be deposited over-the-counter at various retail or shopfronts, but it appears this had not been organised in Griffith.