It was touted as “a game-changer” by Gareth Ward MP, Member for Kiama, but just days before its inception and it has become clear that the State Government has badly bungled the container deposit scheme’s rollout.

A map of collection point locations across the state shows that people will be paying more for drinks without having quick and convenient places to get their refund.

With the scheme set to start on Friday, Member for Shellharbour, Anna Watson MP, says the rollout of the Government’s troubled ‘Return and Earn’ scheme has become a disaster, with fewer than half the promised number of collection points up and running.

Environment Minister Gabrielle Upton, who promoted this container deposit scheme as “the biggest single litter initiative in the history of New South Wales” said it would be easy and accessible, promising there would be 800 reverse vending machines across more than 500 collection points for the scheme. However, this week’s figures show that there are only 45 reverse vending machines across 249 collection points, with no timetable for the rest of the rollout.

With no reverse vending machine collection points south of Wollongong’s CBD to Nowra, residents in the Shellharbour electorate will only have access to two manual over-the-counter collection points, located at Vinnies in Dapto and Oak Flats.

In the lead up to the introduction of this scheme, soft drinks, juices, flavoured milks, bottled water have all gone up in price, while a carton of beer has increased by $4, yet disappointingly Shellharbour residents remain without convenient access to a location to get their 10c refund for each bottle or can.

This means many local residents will end up out of pocket, paying more for their drinks, without any reimbursement from the scheme.

To add to the stuff-up, just 45 convenient reverse vending machines will be operational state-wide, so in desperation the Government has turned to slower, manual, over-the-counter collection points at places like corner stores, takeaway outlets and car washes, which now make up 80% of collection points.

Quotes attributable to Member for Shellharbour, Anna Watson MP:

“Once again the people of Shellharbour have been dudded by this Government. Residents will be forced to pay more for every drink, with nowhere convenient to get their refund.

“With just two manual over the counter collection points to service the whole electorate, and not one convenient reverse vending machine in sight, south of Wollongong’s CBD to Nowra, one can hardly agree with a recent comment made by the Member for Kiama, Gareth Ward, who said that the scheme would be “a game changer.

“Environment Minister Gabrielle Upton had one job: launch a scheme that can help reduce litter and enable consumers to recoup the cost – and she has failed miserably.

“Labor is a strong supporter of this scheme but the Minister has managed to completely botch the rollout. Businesses, bottlers and the public will have to pay the price for this Government’s incompetence.

“The Berejiklian Government must get the rollout right so that in the thirsty lead-up to Christmas people aren’t slugged a few dollars on every case of beer, water or soft drink without being able to get a refund.”


29 November 2017