Yass Valley receives Return and Earn Reverse vending machine

RETURN AND EARN: The kiosk at Yass Woolworths, which will start on December 1, 2017. Photo: Supplied
RETURN AND EARN: The kiosk at Yass Woolworths, which will start on December 1, 2017. Photo: Supplied

Yass Valley environmental groups and residents have welcomed the installation of a Return and Earn reverse-vending machine.

But some say they have concerns about the location of the machine, which will give customers credit for recycled cans and bottles.

The machine has been installed at Woolworths Yass, making it one of many kiosks to be installed at or near Woolworths supermarkets across the state ahead of the start of the scheme on 1 December.

Charles Willcocks, president of Yass Area Network of Landcare Groups (YAN), said the initiative was a positive in reducing litter.

“The scheme is a strong step towards encouraging residents to be more aware of their consumption behaviours,” Mr Willcocks said.

Similarly, Lesley Peden, Friends of Yass Gorge member and facilitator of Kosciuszko to Coast, said that while recycling should be conducted from one’s own initiative, an incentive-based program is nonetheless a positive.

“It's in line with our work at Yass Gorge – to be environmentally aware,” Ms Peden said.

People will be able to choose to donate their refund directly to selected charities or transfer it to their designated account.

People will also be able to redeem the refund for cash from Woolworths supermarkets or use a credit voucher towards their shopping at Woolworths across NSW (except Metro branded Woolworths stores).

Concern expressed about location

However, resident Pete Chatwin expressed concern about its current location, which sits across four parking spaces close to the supermarket.

Mr Chatwin said that while he agreed with the recycling initiative, he questioned the current placement of the kiosk, saying it has “just taken over four parking spaces in a high-vehicle movement area”.

“Some might get hit going to and from the machine. Would it have been easier to park it over near the car park opposite Firths? This would be easier for trucks to empty the container system as well without impeding the main traffic flow,” he said.

Mr Chatwin emailed the NSW EPA on November 6. He told the Tribune on November 8 he had not received a response.

Would it have been easier to park it over near the car park opposite Firths? This would be easier for trucks to empty the container system as well without impeding the main traffic flow.

Pete Chatwin, resident

In a statement, Yass Valley Council said: “Woolworths is a private property and the NSW Department of Planning and Environment exempted the container-deposit program from local government approval in March 2017, meaning council had no involvement”.

Member for Goulburn MP Pru Goward, who announced the Yass site on November 3, told the Tribune that the current placement of the vending machine was the result of negotiations with Woolworths to determine the most appropriate site.

“We want the scheme to be easy, accessible and convenient for people to return eligible containers,” Ms Goward said.

“It is the largest litter-reduction initiative to be introduced in this state. It will help reduce drink container–litter, which makes up the largest proportion of litter volume in NSW at 44 per cent.

“It will be a game-changer,” she said.

Similarly, a Woolworths spokesperson said the vending machines are being placed across the state to provide customers with convenient locations to return their eligible containers for recycling and to obtain their refunds.

“The Return and Earn scheme co-ordinator TOMRA Cleanaway is working hard to ensure that the placement of the vending machines within our supermarket car parks, and the collection from them after December 1, is both convenient for customers and causes as little disruption as possible,” the spokesperson said.

Drink containers eligible for the 10-cent refund include most containers between 150ml and three litres. Containers should not crushed or broken and have the original label attached to be eligible for the refund.

Other locations will be finalised in the coming weeks.

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