Serious doubts have been cast over the state government’s ability to deliver a viable recycling scheme to Wagga.
It comes after the Riverina Eastern Regional Organisation of Councils (REROC) announced that its member councils, including Wagga, would not take on a service delivery role for the NSW Container Deposit Scheme, known as Return and Earn.
REROC chairman Rick Firman said the regional body had been an avid supporter of a recycling scheme but refused to back a multi-national venture subsidised by ratepayer funds.
“Our member councils have undertaken a number of financial projections to determine the viability of our participation and have reached the firm conclusion that the only way that we could be involved would be if councils decided to subsidise the service,” Cr Firman said.
REROC revealed the government’s appointed service providers, TOMRA-Cleanaway, had only submitted a delivery proposal for manual collection points in late October and contract terms earlier this month - less than five weeks before the project’s scheduled rollout.
“I’d say that given how close we are to proposed commencement, most of our councils are concerned about level of service TOMRA-Cleanaway will provide,” added REROC CEO Julie Briggs.
The announcements adds to growing concerns over the scheme’s value after leading drink suppliers including Coca-Cola Amatil and Lion stated their intent to recover CDS fees by hiking product prices.
Wagga mayor Greg Conkey told The Daily Advertiser he had not been fully briefed on REROC’s decision but said Wagga’s situation would be different.
“We haven’t had the chance to fully respond at this stage but it’s my understanding that Wagga will have around four container deposit sites,” Cr Conkey said.
“Our situation is not the same as smaller councils affiliated with REROC but I really couldn’t comment further at this stage.”
Cr Firman said TOMRA-Cleanaway was contractually obligated to deliver the scheme without council’s involvement.
“(They) must still provide access to collection points where residents can redeem their refunds,” he said.