Empty boxes dumped near the Return and Earn vending machine at Woolgoolga Woolworths.
Empty boxes dumped near the Return and Earn vending machine at Woolgoolga Woolworths.

Fears dumping could put scheme at risk

IT'S a common gripe on social media and a recent post about the misuse of a Return and Earn vending machine had people fired up.

Paul Duggan posted a photo of empty cardboard crates dumped near the vending machine at the Woolgoolga Woolworths parking lot.

"Woolworths told me if they keep this crap up we will not have it," he posted on the Woolgoolga and Northern Beaches What's Happening Facebook page.

The post soon had people sharing their experiences but authorities say no official complaints about the Woolgoolga machine have been lodged.

"I saw a photo of the one at Macksville earlier and the pile of rubbish was the height of the container," posted Sally Mayne.

"These are the same people who stopped our kerbside rubbish removal and they will stuff this up as well. So sad we have these people in our beautiful town; wish I could help them understand the ramification of their actions on the services we receive and what we will lose because of their actions," posted Elaine McInnes.

Many suggested Woolworths should supply a recycling bin for people to place their empty cardboard boxes, after eligible containers have been placed in the vending machine, but many feared these would just be filled with general waste.

"Yellow bins won't work as these people who leave rubbish behind are too lazy to flatten the boxes and it would be full in minutes and then they will dump their rubbish beside the bin. A handful of selfish and lazy people ruin it for every one else," posted Julia Bailey.

The Woolgoolga reverse vending machine was installed in December 2017 and has been very popular with more than 7.6 million containers collected.

It is one of around 645 return points across NSW that are managed by the Return and Earn network operator Tomra Cleanaway.

"The Woolgoolga reverse vending machine is cleaned daily during the week, and twice daily on the weekends and Tomra Cleanaway has advised they have not received complaints about dumping at this site," A NSW Environment Protection Authority spokesperson said.

Most drinks containers between 150ml and three litres are eligible for a Return and Earn refund through the vending machines. To check eligibility go to the container database on the EPA website.

Containers should be empty, uncrushed, unbroken and have the original label attached.

The vending machine will have options for either: a voucher redeemable in NSW Woolworths Supermarkets, electronic financial redemption or a charity donation.

"The scheme has fundamentally changed people's behaviour and thinking around litter and has reduced the volume of eligible drink container litter by more than half," the EPA spokesperson said.

"It has also created more than 500 jobs and raised more than $440,000 for charities, schools, community and sporting groups who have featured on reverse vending machines across NSW."

Community concerns regarding Return and Earn should be directed to Tomra Cleanaway customer service centre on 1800 290 691.



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