The first time Matthew Agius took his recyclable cans and bottles to a container deposit station in Wagga, he was met with unforeseen troubles.
“Prepare to line up for a good part of your day, then prepare to get disappointed when you finally get up to the machine, because it’s probably full already,” he said.
Mr Agius stockpiled his cans and was hoping to turn them over in one bulk transaction to earn a sizable amount of cash in one hit.
But the 46-year-old labourer found there were no facilities by which to do so.
In fact, he was turned away without delivering so much as one can.
The problem is aluminium cans weigh virtually nothing unless they’re crushed so it’s hard to tell if the machine is filling up, until it’s too full to take any more.Matthew Agius
Mr Agius would like to see more stations in more locations around Wagga.
“I considered driving all the way to Junee, where they actually count them out one-by-one then hand you the money, but I didn’t want to get there and find out they’re full too,” he said.
“Also, I don’t want to make them count about 500 or more cans.”
In order to collect the reward for his bulk cans, Mr Agius inquired with local recycling centres on whether they might be able to offer a comparable deal.
But without the NSW EPA kickback, the local centres were only able to offer one dollar per kilogram.
Far from the 10 cents per can he would be getting at the deposit machine.
“They’ve got the scale, they’ve got the way to crush the cans, it would be a lot quicker than putting 500 cans into the machine one-by-one and collecting a token for each one.”
Without a bulk return incentive and with so few machines in the region, Mr Agius worries the Return and Earn program will be abandoned from lack of use.
“Before they came in, I knew people who collected all their cans and crushed them, then they couldn’t put them into the machine because it has to read the barcode. So they lost all that money,” he said.
“If it causes people more grief than it’s worth, people can’t be bothered. It’s a good thing, especially for kids, we want to use them but there needs to be a better system.”
Mr Agius hopes the government will make an assessment soon, and adjust the operation accordingly.
“A faster turn around, more bins, or maybe a car park set up once a month where you could deliver your cans and bottles in one big hit and not have to worry about the machines at all.”
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