Questions about Woolworths "reverse-vending" machine

Rubbish at the rubbbish recyling machine

The new “reverse-vending” machine in Woolworths car-park has been so successful it’s created a new problem – waste.

Figures just out indicate that 4,000 cans and bottles a day are deposited there – and that means a mountain of cardboard boxes and bags in which they came.

On top of that, people who find that the can or bottle they’ve taken doesn’t fit the acceptance criteria dump the rejected container next to the machine. Plastic bottles aren’t accepted, for example. Nor are cans for anything but drink.

The result is a string of extra bins at the “reverse-vending” machine which fill so fast they can’t be removed in time to stop the rubbish overflowing across the floor.

One recycler at the site, Tony Tierney, said: “Someone should be responsible for the rubbish. Maybe Woolies should because they get the advantage of the vouchers. And it’s their space as well.”

The vouchers are the paper slip the recycling machine gives recyclers after they’ve put in the bottles and cans. Vouchers can then be turned into cash at the nearby Woolworths check-out.

There's the same problem at Inverell where the machine is also in the Woolworths car-park.

Electrician, Rayne Nathaniel Single, who recycles there said: “I took some myself the other day, and I had a dozen containers that either didn’t have barcodes or they weren’t accepted because they weren’t participating. You end up with half a bag and go ‘What will I do with this now?’”

Armidale’s machine is at the council recycling centre so it doesn’t have such a problem of disposing of collateral waste. Cardboard boxes go into the large paper recycle container nearby.

But the beauty of the Woolworths sites is that they were where people go to frequently. If people drive there to shop, they can add the load of cans and bottles to recycle on the same trip.

NSW’s Environment Protection Agency said that the group responsible for the scheme – TOMRA Cleanaway – provided bins near reverse-vending machines.

A spokesman said: “During busy periods where more people are using the reverse vending machines and visiting collection points, TOMRA Cleanaway has increased its clean-up efforts and put additional support arrangements in place.

“Return and Earn is designed to reduce litter. As well as returning eligible containers, people should make sure they put any rubbish in the bins provided or take any ineligible containers and packaging home with them to dispose of or recycle where they can.”