Editorial February 17th 2023
Welcome to this week’s editorial, From time to time, like all of you, I encounter a tin can or bottle by the side of the road that must have escaped by its own means from a passing car. Fortunately this only happens rarely and most likely as a result of well intentioned fishers knowing there are no bins at the boat ramp to deposit their now empty beverage. It is nice to know that they don’t want to pollute our water ways. And who knows; maybe the person who picks up the bottle or can might cash it in. The wayside bottles and cans in suburbia are rare but not so along out highways. As I drive along our garbage strewn rural roads I often wonder just how much wealth is there for the taking, remembering the vast fortune I used to amass as a lad from collecting all the beer bottles from the Burns Philp residential compound in Port Moresby after a typical weekend and wheelbarrowing them down Scratchley Road in Badili to be paid for their return by the good people at South Pacific Brewery. I was fortunate to be able to access the garbage bins of the single men's dongas and I knew which of the married quarter houses to visit to pick up cartons of empties as most of the occupants were family friends. Basically it was a lucrative corner of the market I had. To those who lived outside of the compound finding a soft drink bottle and returning it to a trade store would redeem a half cigarette. Five bottles would redeem a half stick of tobacco and ten soft drink bottles would return a small tin of mackerel. It goes without saying that the PNG roadsides had very few, if any bottles. Either soft drink or beer. They were all dutifully returned for their refund. For me, the beer bottle returns gave me cash. Enough cash to go to the movies, buy ap pack of salty plums or dried octopus, go to the market for the best nuts and, as I grew older, buy records. For many years Australians enjoyed the same return and earn from their local shop. But then, for one reason or another, we became lazy. The 10c deposit was just a token amount that didn’t equal the effort to bother. Thousands, then hundreds of thousands of bottles and cans made their way into the environment. Even though we introduced kerbside recycling it was still easier to throw your can or bottle overboard, leave it on the beach or toss it out the car window instead of taking it home. As a result our National roadsides are a goldmine. Some in our community are able to supplement their incomes by gathering the redeemable bottles and cans, left out by friends, neighbours and businesses. And there are others who make the decision to redeem the refund for a particular cause, while ensuring the bottle or can doesn’t make it to the landfill. Recyclers in NSW have just raised over $94,000 to help Animal Welfare League NSW (AWL) rescue, rehabilitate and re-home animals in need by recycling a massive 940,000 bottles and cans through Return and Earn. Users of the Return and Earn scheme can support one of +185 not-for-profit organisations, charities, sport clubs or schools. The Return and Earn facilities across NSW have collected more than eight billion containers and reduced drink container litter volume by 52 per cent since it was introduced by the NSW Government in 2017. It has delivered 800,000 tonnes of additional material for recycling already, helping remove these containers from becoming landfill or litter. The scheme has also delivered $800 million in refunds into the pockets of people in NSW, and delivered more than $40 million in donations to charities and community groups. But still most of us choose to put our refundable into our recycling and not redeem to refund. We pay for the product that includes the refund. Yet we fail to bother to redeem it. I was pleased this week to learn that local community group Yumaro were looking for businesses to contribute their returnables. In return for providing bins Yumaro will come and collect and then redeem for projects they support and nurture. Hopefully there will be more an more initiatives like this. The Return and Earn scheme is set to expand to include glass wine and spirits bottles and larger containers. The planned expansion would see up to an additional 400 million eligible bottles recycled each year, including 233 million glass bottles including glass wine and spirits bottles. So next time you have a refundable can or bottle have a think about what happens to its refund value. As a kid I knew I had little buying power with one bottle but with a whole carton or two I was King of the World. We can do better and groups like Yumaro are helping, so let’s help them Until next lei
From February 2023, Yumaro will be collecting empty drink containers to deposit with Return and Earn for a refund of 10 cents a piece.
If you are a business they are able to arrange a bin to be delivered to you and they will collect on a weekly basis on Wednesdays. Phone 4474 3336 for more information.