Return and Earn container deposit scheme has been ‘botched’ by government: Labor

Still waiting: A small number of Return and Earn sites have been established but most towns and cities in Western NSW are still waiting. Photo: FILE
Still waiting: A small number of Return and Earn sites have been established but most towns and cities in Western NSW are still waiting. Photo: FILE

Just two days out from the start of the container deposit scheme in NSW, the state government is unable to say when Dubbo will get its first collection point.

There will be just four collection points across the Central West and Orana regions when the Return and Earn scheme goes live on Friday.

Dubbo residents will have to travel to Wellington or Dunedoo if they want to get the 10-cent rebate in the opening weeks of the scheme.

It comes despite a promise from the NSW government to have 85 per cent of the proposed 500 Return and Earn sites up and running by December 1.

Instead there will be just 230 sites open and 185 of those are located within Sydney. When it comes to regional areas, residents of some towns would be required to travel several hours to reach their nearest collection point.

Those who use kerbside recycling will not receive the 10-cent rebate, but the waste management company who collects it will be able to claim it.

Cowra, Wellington, Dunedoo and Coonabarabran are the locations that are currently listed on the Return and Earn website. Cowra and Wellington will be the Return and Earn reverse vending machines, while Dunedoo and Coonabarabran will be over-the-counter returns.

Young also has a reverse vending machine collection point.

Fairfax Media approached Environment Minister Gabrielle Upton, asking her why some towns had missed out and if there was a timetable for collection points opening.

The Minister was also asked if it was fair that people would have to store bottles and cans until a collection point was installed.

A spokesperson for Ms Upton provided a one sentence response.

“More than 230 collection points across NSW are available online. The rollout will continue – this is just the start.”

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.

Mr Mookhey said regional retailers were also being harmed because customers were angry they had to pay more, without any way of claiming the rebate.

“They aren’t able to tell their customers when they can get the rebate,” he said.

“Some of those retailers have said they would have been interested in being collection points but they weren’t given a chance.”

Mr Mookhey said the government owed regional NSW an apology for the way the scheme had been handled.

“People will now have to store hundreds, if not thousands of bottles to get the rebate or throw them away and miss out,” he said.