Environment loser in container buy-back scheme starting next week?


The jury is still out in the debate whether the environment will be the winner in the introduction of the new container deposit scheme.
The Alice Springs Town Council’s cans and bottles buy-back initiative makes way next week for the government mandated container deposit scheme which started on January 3.
At the moment the council pays 5c for any can or bottle people drop off at the council’s depot, although some conditions apply.
The new scheme, paying 10c per item, doesn’t cover containers sold before January 3 nor does it accept wine and spirit bottles.
But Stewart Pritchard, the owner of the depot set up for the new scheme, says the range of containers is greater than the council’s scheme.
He estimates that the bottles not covered by it amount to just 5% of the container volume.
Under the new scheme containers are accepted only if they bear the markings 10c SA, 10c SA/NT or 10c NT.
 This will include beer and soft drink cans, plastic and cardboard containers, including mixers and energy drinks, glass stubbies and beer bottles, but not, for example, wine and spirit bottles or two litre milk containers.
 Mr Pritchard estimates his firm will be receiving 12 million to 14 million containers a year, paying out $1.2m to $1.4m.
The council’s scheme has received 17 million cans and bottles since its scheme started in July, 2009.
Many of these items were collected from public places, making a significant dint into the town’s litter problem.
 The collection point for the new scheme is provided by Territory Recycling Depot in 106 Smith Street.
Mr Pritchard says the scheme is modeled on the one long in use in South Australia.
 The consumer pays an extra 20c per container. He gets back half of that if he takes the empty container to the depot.
The other 10c is split between the manufacturer and the depot operator. It’s a work in progress, says Mr Pritchard: For example, to apply the SA scheme in the NT isn’t entirely fair, because here the containers have to be separated into 24 categories whereas in SA there are only eight separations. 
The new scheme has no significant financial input from the NT Government whereas it financially supported the council’s scheme, contributing $600,000 over the scheme’s life. The council put in $346,000, says council CEO Rex Mooney.
This includes, from the 2008/09 financial year to the present, $56,000 in salaries and $89,000 in overtime.
The total cost of the scheme was $1.066m, including $834,000 paid out to the collectors – 5 cents for each of the nearly 17 million items.
The income was $119,000 for selling the cans as scrap and the NT Government’s $600,000.
Will there be more use for the glass crushing machine bought especially for the council scheme at a cost of $800,000?
“The glass crusher will remain an important component of council’s facilities at the landfill, particularly with the upcoming redevelopment.  This facility will play a vital role in council’s future recycling strategy,” says a council spokesman.
Some people are unhappy about the new scheme. 
A woman, who spoke to the News on condition of not being named, says she and her husband collected 50,000 cans.
All had been dumped in public places.
 They won’t get $5000 for them, as they expected, because these cans may not have been bought before January 3, and may not carry the required markings.
They can still – until March 3 – get $2500 from the council, provided that they can get 100 friends to drop in 500 cans each (the maximum allowed per person), and provided that all these friends live in the Municipality of Alice Springs and the cans came from the Municipality of Alice Springs of Alice Springs.
The conditions attached to either scheme seem to take little account of that fact that the couple’s work has liberated Alice Springs of a huge amount of rubbish. If protecting the environment is the objective, why attach all sorts of conditions?
The question of dates under the new scheme is causing tensions.
 For example, does a use-by date of January 2, 2012 printed on a can prove it was bought before January 3, 2012?
 Could it not have been old stock in the liquor store, purchased on January 3?
For that matter, could the same not have been the case with a use-by date of December 1, 2012 – or whatever?
There are also batch numbers on the cans, which can be tracked to stores and purchases, but how long would it take to check the batch numbers of 50,000 cans? 
Mr Pritchard says clients generally accept the new rules but some try to pass off old cans for new ones – including some that are faded from exposure to sun. 
How quickly does a VB can fade?
Mr Pritchard says his firm is giving a fair amount of latitude at the moment, and most customers are reasonable.
 Up to 20,000 containers a day have been redeemed.
 At least one client was not happy: “I’m going to take the stuff to the f…ing dump,” was his answer after an argument over old vs new cans.
 A compromise has now been found, says Mr Pritchard, and it will all be easier when the pre-January 3 stock is used up and only clearly qualifying containers will be handed in.
What will not change is that many bottles cannot be redeemed: those not qualifying under the new scheme can be taken to the Smith Street depot or the council dump.
 But you won’t get a cent for them.
How many will re-appear as dangerous litter, again blighting this town?
Meanwhile the government’s project manager Craig Ingram said: “We are disappointed the beverage industry in the Territory has chosen to increase its prices and blame the scheme.
“Territorians are encouraged to shop around for best prices.
“If you have questions about a price increase on containers as a result of the Cash for Containers scheme and feel that a retailer is providing misleading or deceptive statements about why the cost of a beverage has increased under the scheme, please contact Consumer Affairs on 1800 019 319 or visit us online.
Photo: Tony Satour delivering empties to the council recycling scheme closing next week: Many glass bottles will not attract a refund under the NT Government mandated scheme.


  1. Even though it is the mindful who collect the dumped cans, these are the same people that are cleaning up after others. I guess this will cease, as who is going to pickup cans from the street and parks, just to check if they have the correct date on them. As for not being squashed, how can cans not be if they are all put together in a confined space.

  2. Get a barrel or two from Russ Driver on Sargeant St for the glass bottles and metal cans not covered by the scheme and support the small business that was recycling before either of these government schemes started. They will drop off the barrels and pick them up when they’re full call (08) 8952 1087 – just make sure you give the bottles and cans a rinse before you put them in the barrel or drop them off at 58 Sargeant St.
    Let’s get past the semantics of when it was purchased and support this courageous recycling policy – don’t try to rip it off, it’s bad enough the beverage companies are trying to – and if you’re thinking of taking them to the tip – then consider dropping them at Sargeant St for free.

  3. Jimmy why not some recycling depots around town. In Cairns schools had the depots there to assist with raising money for schools. The design was safe and environmentally friendly. I was the designer and my design was accepted by the Queensland Government and built in sheltered workshops and given to schools. In Cairns the city council built the cabinets and gave them to schools. I was the manger for the Cairns beautification project. I also implemented the curb side recycling for Cairns as well as park beautification. This was 1986-1992. During this time I worked with the education department to write work books for communities from Cooktown up. With lateral thinking anything is possible. I have given my information to council during Fran Kilgariff’s time and also Damian Ryan’s. I offered my knowledge to assist but was ignored. I have achievements and knowledge with regards to my ability. I spoke at length to Alderman John Rawnsley about my design for safe environmental public toilets and each time I rang him he would offer ring me back in four weeks. This has be going on since 2010. I have also had conversations with you, Jimmy. We have opportunities to display to other parts of Aussie some amazing environmental progress. Real positives for our town.

  4. @ 1.
    A few too many I’s, Janet, ten too many to be exact.
    Your sort of thinking is insular and myopic in the extreme. Just like your ASTC friends.
    ASTC will only adopt new ideas if it can be presented as their own.
    No wonder is it that current leadership has put Alice on the road to nowhere…
    Diana Whitehouse.

  5. I know. One more for you Diana. But we are a community. We should combine the ideas from all sides for moves towards great outcomes for Alice. Outcomes opportunities and vision. With experience knowledge based ideas can you image were we will be or were we should be. With a “can do” approach we have a chance to say look at what we have achieved by working together.

  6. Some very good points from both Jimmy and Janet. May I suggest a community-based initiative that by-passes our unimaginative political representatives and government bureaucrats altogether, whereby we as individuals contact Russ Driver and have them set up re-cycling barrels at “collection points” for their street or neighbourhood. I particularly like Janet’s idea of involving schools (and, I might add, businesses such as supermarkets) as convenient “collection points”. They could be encouraged to get involved by the parents and customers.

  7. Janet, what hypocrisy! You have officially moved into the propaganda phase of your tilt at public office, banging the dictatorial drum, with “we should combine the ideas from all sides for moves towards great outcomes for Alice”.
    But your stance on alcohol policies in Alice doesn’t combine any of the ideas which many have put forth in recent weeks. In fact, you are on record as saying “we will never agree.”
    When it comes to recycling refuse you appear to be good and when it comes to recycling alcohol policies you are equally magnificent with your slogan “outcomes, opportunities and vision,” but there is no strength in ignorance, only delusion.

  8. Russell, this article is about environment and recycling. Dragging your addition with alcohol to this article shows your obsession with it. Yes, I have concerns with environment and negative impact on our town, with regards to the visual beauty of our town. Russell you need to control your obsession with one subject and have an open mind to the many other facets that make up the earth, the people and our existence on this planet.

  9. Janet, I make the point that your policy on winding back, rather than continuing with alcohol restrictions renders your use of the word “vision” as gratuitous as your little homilies.
    Your hypocritical statements about combining all ideas are more of your positive spin, leaving the negative for others to clean up.
    I’ve been following your erratic election trail for the past weeks and as I’ve said before, your position is all over the place.
    The only thing you appear to make any sense on at all is recycling refuse. Perhaps, you should stick to your area of expertise.

  10. Obviously Janet Brown refuses to be held accountable for her many contradictory and often irrational assertions and arguments. She complains (@ Janet Brown, Posted February 24, 2012 at 7:33 am, below), in relation to ideas she put to the Alice Springs Town Council and the Arid Lands Environment Centre, that “I offered my knowledge to assist but was ignored.” This hardly seems surprising when you read through her contributions to this and other fora.
    My admiration goes to those like Russell Guy and Diana Whitehouse who have the patience to attempt the thankless task of trying to engage with Janet and get her to justify the increasingly bizarre statements made by her in what amounts to her public monologue (a monologue which often verges on becoming a tirade).

  11. Tut tut guys. My set of beliefs and fair play are balanced and do not change course mid stream. I must say that unlike most I do not disguise anger with nasty comments. Nor do I attack personalities. I make comment on what I believe dictatorship are 3rd world ideologies that breach the democratic rights of Australians. Politeness and decently treating others are my guides in life. I believe that Russel and Bob owe themselves time out to breath and relax. We may be ruled by a socialist government and some parts of our community support that, but I do not. So until we live under a communist flag, happy debating to us all.

  12. Janet, by introducing politics into this debate today, you have declared the lives of alcoholics subject to your political ambitions.
    In doing so, you have shown a lack of understanding for any bipartisan statesmanship, declaring that you would prefer to combine ideas for the good of this town, but only if they exclude current and any further alcohol restrictions.
    Risk based alcohol consumption is the biggest threat to this town’s prosperity and you can’t even discuss the untried, takeaway alcohol free day proposal, but you’re not alone. Our local leaders and other aspirants remain dreadfully silent for fear of upsetting the status quo.
    I have voted both Labor and Liberal in my life and have never been a member of any political party. I’m not a “swinging voter”, I value policy ideas and the skill of persuasive debate, but the political landscape is changing for the worse and spin is now established as a substitute for truth. The consequence of this cannot be postponed indefinitely.
    Please correct me if I’m wrong, but I’ve heard that the CLP, if it wins government in the forthcoming NT election, intends to dismantle Labor’s Stronger Futures alcohol restrictions, which, despite the Leader of the Opposition’s impatience, appear to be having an affect in the community. I know this is debatable, but I have eyes.
    I have tried to show how excessive alcohol consumption is endemic in our society and that we, as a nation, risk losing much to the escalating effects of liberal licensing laws which have been so much a part of our lives – at least since the 1960s when the legal drinking age was reduced from 21 years – to the point where binge drinking 15-29 year olds are now presenting with statistically high levels of liver cirrhosis.
    You can find that in my Food for Thought article “Central Australia is perishing for a drink” if you have the open mind which you proclaim.

  13. Russel as I stated prior this article is about recycling. Your comment needs to be on your article and I will answer you there. Unless you have a comment relevant to this issue please add to it. Thanks.

  14. Janet, you don’t set the rules yet. Alcohol consumption in Alice Springs is two times the national average per adult (See “Central Australia is perishing for a drink”). You can dream all you like in your recycling depot, but unless you grasp the big picture and advocate for further supply restrictions that’s all you’ll do. Dream on.

  15. I must say that I find it amazing the amount of containers for cash. In Queensland it never included poppers or milk cartons. Both were regarded as contaminated product that if not washed correctly would contaminate the other product during recycling process. It has been a long time since I was involved in the recycling program. I would have thought we would have started small to gauge participation and work load. And grow with knowledge. So when will we see recycling depots in various spots in Alice? And where do I find plans for our new waste transfer centre?

  16. Thank you for the link. My next question is why this project (the transfer station) being constructed by a Queensland building company and not a local company. The company is Ekistica Pty Ltd from Coolum Beach, Queensland. Our businesses and builders are suffering here. And this transfer station is helping a Queensland business and destroying local business. Our town is in trouble and this council instead of helping our residents. A project for our town and council with the support of our mayor saying this is his achievement. What is that Mr Ryan? A smack in the face of local construction companies. You and council should be ashamed of yourselves.

  17. Possibly so Janet. However, at a guess having dealt with local contractors, their rates and quotes would have been stupidly high. So that’s your answer? Waste our taxpayers money to over quoting “local” contractors? Very “responsible” and “good money management” on your part. Competition is always healthy. Alice Springs has to get with the program, business is a competitive world in the rest of the Territory and country.

  18. Sean. Your comment has no positive message. Nothing to add that is useful. But I hope you feel better attacking our hard working construction businesses in town. Businesses that contribute so much to our prosperity. Our sporting clubs and more.

  19. Sean, don’t be cowed by Janet Brown’s enthusiasm for defending “our hard-working construction businesses.” She is known for adopting a position of high moral dudgeon, saying that people “should be ashamed of themselves”.
    It’s a ploy to garner votes.
    This is easily seen in the point you make, which she glosses over. Some contractors tender outrageous quotes for government work at the expense of the taxpayer. You have rightly identified it as a scam which has nothing to do with being competitive in the market place.
    Janet Brown appears to have discovered the real estate rort which recently doubled the price of houses in Alice in less than ten years.
    The Brown Town alcohol policies, like those of Eli Melky and their cronies running for council, are similarly designed to prosper on as much government funding as possible, while supporting those who promote excessive alcohol consumption and its misery.
    Law enforcement agencies target supply in any other form of recreational drug use, but the Browns et al promote alcohol because it’s legal and then claim law and order when it gets out of hand.
    They appear enthusiastic, but their disordered mind hinders the exercise of reason, so that there is no understanding of the complexity of public alcoholism. This is evident in their failure to answer a host of reasonable questions over the past weeks relating to their policy proposals.
    I now doubt that they are able to do this because it would reveal the instability of their reasoning and their political position as compromising. The community is the poorer for it.
    A fascinated, but diminishing support base is witnessing the madness in their “anti-discrimination,” open slather, alcohol policy, as if it’s emancipation, instead of slavery to shame (See “Central Australia is perishing for a drink” for figures which highlight the burden of their vision).


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