Almost three months in to the botched roll-out of the ‘Return and Earn’ scheme and three weeks since the EPA said a machine would be installed in Maitland in February, there is still not a single reverse vending machine in Maitland. The Minister and the EPA still won’t confirm where or when a machine will come to Maitland.
Environment Minister Gabrielle Upton promised 800 machines as the backbone of the scheme, but with only 446 machines at 110 locations statewide, the roll-out can only be described as a debacle of the Minister’s making.
The slow roll-out has left Maitland residents unable to get their 10c refund from a fast and convenient high-volume machine.
Instead, the Government is relying on much slower, manual, over-the-counter sorting at cafes, car washes and kebab shops that are simply not as convenient or capable of dealing with large amounts of containers. Both of the local small businesses who put their hands up to be part of the over the counter scheme withdrew within a month of being in the scheme due to a lack of support for regional collections.
This has led to questions about whether proper planning is being done to locate the machines.
This map of reverse vending machine locations by the Network Operator shows how Maitland has been completely left out:
This week the Minister boasted that 100 million drink containers have been returned, but this means only $10 million has been refunded to the community who have forked out $120 million more to buy their drinks since the scheme began less than 12 weeks ago.
Quotes attributable to the Shadow Minister for the Environment Penny Sharpe
“How long will the Premier keep this failed Environment Minister in charge of this mess?
“With the entire Sydney coastline and regional centres like Maitland devoid of a single reverse vending machine, the ‘Return and Earn’ scheme roll-out by the Berejiklian Government has been nothing short of disastrous.”
Quotes attributable to the Member for Maitland Jenny Aitchison
“Everybody in Maitland is paying more to buy their drinks, but we don’t have a local reverse vending machine to get a refund.
“The Minister has failed to tell us how long we are going to be paying more without the ability to obtain a fast, convenient refund from a machine.”