Return and Earn vending machines heading for the Mountains

Cr Brent Hoare in the Springwood IGA car park with cans and bottles ready to be recycled. He is a strong supporter of the scheme.
Cr Brent Hoare in the Springwood IGA car park with cans and bottles ready to be recycled. He is a strong supporter of the scheme.

There are plans afoot to install reverse vending machines in the Mountains – but less certainty about exactly where.

TOMRA/Cleanaway has approached council, hoping to install the machines on council owned or managed land.

While early talks canvassed using the Woolworths car parks at Katoomba and Leura, ultimately sites in the car parks beside Blaxland and Springwood IGAs were favoured.

But council has some concerns. It believes the loss of parking spaces to accommodate the machines would be keenly felt. It also doesn’t want to be lumped with having to keep the area around the machines clean.

Cr Chris Van der Kley said one machine he saw in action was surrounded by empty cardboard boxes which people had used to bring their cans and bottles and had just dumped afterwards.

Cr Don McGregor called it a “dog of a scheme”.

“It collects a lot of rubbish around, it interferes with parking and it only collects cans in a pristine condition. I don’t know how anyone can support it.”

But Greens Cr Brent Hoare said he was all in favour of the scheme.

“It may have its deficiencies and there will be some bumps along the road but I am concerned that some of the [council] report tends to the negative.”

He said more than 100 million containers had been returned under the scheme which started in December and urged council to “look more positively at locating machines where people are”.

Cr Hoare later told the Gazette that the Nambucca Shire Council just last week voted to install machines at Nambucca Heads and Macksville, working with the same company.

He said concerns from the northern NSW council were alleviated by TOMRA/Cleanaway, which undertook to clean the area every day. 

In the end, council voted to endorse the idea in principle but negotiations will continue with the company to find alternative locations, such as sportsgrounds, state-owned land such as road reserves and rail corridors, or at waste management facilities.