NT Recycling Solutions (NTRS) yesterday closed the doors of its three depots operating in the Darwin area under the Cash for Containers scheme.
Managing Director Leon Schulz says his firm had paid 10 cents refund for more than two million containers but the reimbursement from the drink manufacturers has either been not paid or not in full.
“NTRS advised the Government of these issues early in the scheme’s existence, however they failed to make any significant efforts to help us resolve the matter until several weeks after the issues arose,” says Mr Schulz.
“The Government’s offer of mediation, which we have accepted, is too little too late. Steps to amend the Act to provide clarity for all parties need to be taken immediately.”
This follows serious concerns about the scheme expressed by the Alice Springs based operator.
Mr Schulz says from January 3 until yesterday his firm operated three depots, Shoal Bay, Berrimah and Yarrawonga.
“A number of issues have arisen within the operation of the scheme, both because of the lack of clarity in the legislation and the failure of the government to properly regulate the scheme and penalise coordinators for breaches of the Act.
“To date there have been issues with the acceptance of containers by the coordinators and payments for the refund amount and reasonable handling fees. Although a small number of invoices have been paid by the coordinators the majority of funds have not been paid and are significantly late.
“We apologise to the individual members of the public, sporting clubs, community groups, charities and all others effected for any inconvenience this has caused however our hand has been forced in this issue and we cannot continue to run the scheme on a charitable basis.
“We encourage them to contact the Minister responsible for the administration of the Act, Karl Hampton (pictured) and voice their concerns over the failure of the scheme to date.”
On Friday Mr Hampton issued the following statement:
“The Government is advised that independent mediation will be undertaken next week between parties in relation to the Container Deposit Scheme.
“Claims made by the parties continue to be thoroughly investigated by the Department.
“As is often the case with commercial disputes, investigations often reveal other sides to the dispute.
“Like South Australia, we have an industry run cash for containers scheme
“We have a good framework in place through the legislation.
“Under this legislation collection depots operate as businesses and need to form appropriate contractual arrangements with the relevant scheme coordinators
“The investigation thus far has not demonstrated clear wrong doing under the legislation in the manner alleged.
“All parties are entitled to some fairness and when there is claim and counter claim around the facts at hand, the most appropriate course of action is to get the parties around the table to try to find solutions.
“That is why Government has made the offer to pay for mediation.
“Government remains ready and willing to assist in resolving the issues faced by parties.
“Darwin and Palmerston continue to remain well serviced for families to get their 10 cents back with collection depots operating through three companies in Winnellie, Berrimah and Pinelands.”
It has now been confirmed that the mediation will be before Tom Pauling, former NT Administrator, early in the week.
PHOTO at top: Part of the depot in Smith Street, Alice Springs.