The price of a carton of beer is about to go up by $4 to $5 and Scott Randall from Bellingen Cellars is one person who’s not happy about it.
The hike is the result of a new state government levy designed to reduce litter.
The Container Deposit Scheme (CDS) Return and Earn involves consumers paying 15 cents more for soft drinks, ready-to-drink beverages and beer, and then receiving a 10 cent refund on cans and bottles when they take them to a registered collection point.
The containers targeted by the levy are those most often found as litter and the aim is to reduce the state’s annual $162 million clean-up cost.
The trouble is, the refunds are supposed to start from December 1 but the process for getting your cash back is far from clear.
“No one knows where our centre is going to be,” Bellingen Cellar’s Scott Randall said. “The government haven’t thought it out well enough to implement it.
“When we were kids you just took them back to the shop – not that I want that hassle.”
Scott has been told by a beer company rep that Nambucca is not getting a collection point, but Mackville might.
“But a lot of this is hearsay,” Scott said. “It’s not on anyone’s website yet.”
The Courier-Sun asked Bellingen Shire Council whether the Raleigh Community Recycling Centre would include a CDS collection point, and also what would happen to the money for bottles and cans that people continued to put into their normal recycling.
Their response to the first question was that an organisation appointed by the government was responsible for organising the collection points and it was obliged to have 85 per cent of them operating by December 1.
Also, towns with more than 1000 residents must have a collection point, unless they fall within a 30km zone of another town that has one.
Quote from Council:
“It is understood that there will be a number of ‘collection points’ for consumers to return their eligible containers. These will include reverse vending machines (RVM), manual collection points and automated collection points.
“TOMRA – Cleanaway has been appointed by the NSW Government as the network operator, and is solely responsible for organising and hosting collection points. The collection points may be located at existing landfills or transfer stations, supermarkets, the local scout hall or any other location. If the store that the consumer purchased the container from has a collection point in it then the resident can return their containers there.
“From the roll out of CDS, 1 December 2017, the Network Operator must have 85% of collection points operating. At this stage the location of the collection points, across NSW, have not been finalised.
“As collection points are established, there will be location information available at http://returnandearn.org.au/
“In addition there is a community access provision in the Container Deposit Scheme legislation, which means that every population centre in regional areas with a population of more than 1000 residents must have a collection point unless it falls within 30kms of another town with more than 1000 residents with a collection point. For an example Urunga falls into the 30km zone of Coffs Harbour, Nambucca Heads and Bellingen.”
According to Google Maps, Coffs Harbour and Macksville are both more than 30km from Bellingen, so Bellingen would not fall within their zone.
However, it may be the case that Dorrigo residents have to bring their bottles and cans to Bellingen, or even vice versa.
The official population of Dorrigo as of the 30th June 2016 was 1,201, and Bellingen and Dorrigo are 29.7km apart, so one will presumably fall within the collection point zone of the other.
In regards to the second question of who benefits if the consumer ‘gifts’ their bottles and cans to Council via the recycling service, the reply was that an arrangement was still being worked out.
Quote from Council:
“Containers that are collected in the kerbside collection scheme (yellow bins) are processed in the Materials Recovery Facility (MRF), as is the case currently. A refund protocol is being established and managed by the NSW Environment Protection Authority which will involve distribution of funds between Council’s and MRF operators in what is described as a ‘fair and reasonable refund agreement’.
At this stage Coffs Coast Councils are still in negotiations with the MRF operator regarding this aspect of the legislation/arrangements.”