Nambucca Valley's recycled Return and Earn rumour a load of rubbish?

Updated: Recycled Return and Earn rumour a load of rubbish?

UPDATE as of September 29: It's been over a week and we've still had no official response from TOMRA regarding the repeated rubbish issues around their Return and Earn kiosks at Coronation Park in Nambucca Heads and beside the tennis courts in Macksville.

But Mayor Rhonda Hoban has today shared with us some correspondence she received this morning from TOMRA in which they say they have "received a commitment from Cleanaway" that the skip bins will now be emptied on a Sunday.

Hopefully this additional service will keep the overflowing rubbish problem at bay.

But, as many in the community have rightly pointed out, it wouldn't hurt for users of the facility to do their bit by flattening cardboard boxed before throwing them away.

Previously: Many of you may have heard Chinese whispers suggesting the Return and Earn bottle and can recycling scheme at Macksville is about to be removed.

It's not the first time this rumour has been recycled, and it probably won't be the last.

But Guardian News can confirm that the station is still there (as of midday Monday, September 21) and being very well utilised.

In the space of just a few minutes, four separate groups of locals arrived to deposit their spent containers in the machine.

One couple we spoke with has been recycling their cans and bottles for years - before the Macksville machine arrived they'd drive the 50kms down to Kempsey to recycle about three years' worth of empties - at a return of about "66 cents a kilo".

They can now get about ten times that amount, they said, and they don't have to go out of their way to do it, nor spend time stomping cans.

For them, the machine at Macksville is a great convenience, and one they said they'd be sorry to see go (if it ever did).

After speaking with Nambucca Valley Council General Manager Michael Coulter today we can confirm that the rumours are really just a load of rubbish.

There are no proposals to remove either facility. I have no idea where the rumours are coming from.

Michael Coulter

Mr Coulter said either party could decide to back away from that agreement, but that notice was required beforehand.

He also said that any hypothetical future decision to do so would be brought before council first and put on public record. And it would be more likely that there would be negotiations to move the kiosks to another location rather than get rid of them completely.

The bin at Macksville was overflowing this morning, proving it was well-used over the weekend

The bin at Macksville was overflowing this morning, proving it was well-used over the weekend

There have been a few different issues and copious complaints made to council about both Return and Earn sites in the Nambucca Valley.

Mayor Rhonda Hoban said overflowing rubbish at the Coronation Park kiosk in Nambucca Heads had been attracting a lot of ire from nearby residents. The Macksville Park facility was having similar problems.

"For six weeks I was driving to Nambucca and Macksville every weekend to take photos of the state of the rubbish," she said.

It was an eyesore - there was stuff blowing everywhere. It was drifting onto the sporting fields and the carparks, and local residents were picking up the rubbish.

According to the agreement, council is not responsible for cleaning the sites - that falls on TOMRA.

"We know that each area has its own idiosyncrasies. This will always be a consultative process. If you say it needs to be cleaned twice a day then we'll do that. And we pay for clean-up," TOMRA representative Jeremy Melder said to council in February 2018 when the agreement was struck.

Cr Hoban said she had nothing against the recycling scheme, but that she wouldn't be doing her job if she didn't communicate the legitimate concerns of locals.

"I think Return and Earn is great, but the lease TOMRA signed with us says rubbish has to be collected once a day and it's clear it just wasn't being done on weekends.

"So I passed on the concerns of our residents to TOMRA and asked that they clean the facilities in accordance with the conditions of the lease.

"It appears that they have taken action, because for the past three weeks the situation has improved - at least in Nambucca."

Before and after photos of the Coronation Park facility taken by Mayor Rhonda Hoban

Before and after photos of the Coronation Park facility taken by Mayor Rhonda Hoban

Guardian News has contacted TOMRA for comment. They have confirmed there is no plan to remove either recycling station in the Nambucca Valley. We will publish their detailed written response as soon as we receive it.

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