Queensland’s Container Refund Scheme is a Scam, Rip-Off and a Rort!

More reports continue to come in of people being ripped off by the Container Refund Scheme and the amount of time wasted on trying to get refunds yet the Queensland Government remains silent as it handed off it’s responsibilities to a third party called Containers for Change.

The terms and conditions state that there can be no disputes once you drop off your containers for a refund. Furthermore Containers for Change offer the simple if ridiculous advice to go elsewhere if you’re not happy! Sure let’s waste more fuel and time for a pointless scheme that doesn’t achieve anything that it claims and to top it off they blame customers for being stupid and not knowing what containers can be recycled!

… some people still aren’t sure which containers are eligible and which are ineligible, she said.

If people aren’t happy with the container refund point they have used, they should check what other operators are in their area.

Container for Change

The sooner the state government does what it should have done in the first place the better.

‘Cash for cans’ faces teething problems

DESPITE having 12 months to watch how the cash for cans scheme works in the Tweed, organisers of the Gold Coast’s own version are still facing some serious teething problems.

The Queensland scheme, which incorporates recycling machines and bulk deposits, has been labelled a “rort” and a “rip-off’ by locals who have been short-changed.

The Gold Coast Sun has received multiple complaints from locals who say they have dropped off significant amounts of cans and bottles only to receive meagre amounts of money, and in some cases no money at all.

The Containers for Change scheme offers a 10-cent refund for each eligible container returned for recycling at one of the container refund points, but some locals call it a scam.

Roz Rowe, 50, from Coomera Waters deposited her recyclables at the Salvos store at Oxenford, where it was calculated she would receive a refund of $25.80.

However, she received a total sum of only $3.70 – 36 days after her deposit.

“I was assured payment it would take three to four days,” she said.

“This is a ridiculous amount of time for me to wait for money due.”

Ms Rowe then took $40 worth to the Envirobank on Siganto Drive at Helensvale, but they had run out of orange collection bags.

She then drove to Ashmore, but said the queue was “out the door”.

“By this stage, I had two agitated kids who did not want to wait the hour queue time so we came home. Petrol wasted, time wasted for nothing,” Ms Rowe said.

In a written complaint to Containers for Change, Ms Rowe said the issue was eventually resolved.

Kerry Charlwood from Oxenford complained after she dropped off nine large bags and received only $2.10.

“I put trust in this process,” she said. “My grandchildren have been working hard collecting these bottles and cans.

“I’m not the only person missing money too. The more people who complain, hopefully someone will do something about it.”

There have also been calls to expand the Ashmore depo, with some locals calling it “overloaded” and based on an “honour system”.

Ashmore local Anthony Nicholas wrote on the Containers for Change Facebook page, questioning the validity of the refund process and suggesting there was no way to accurately calculate the appropriate refund.

A Containers for Change spokeswoman said they would be “very concerned” to hear people were not getting correct refunds.

“If anyone believes this is the case they should contact our call centre on 134 242 and provide their scheme ID so we can track what has happened to the containers … some people still aren’t sure which containers are eligible and which are ineligible,” she said.

“If people aren’t happy with the container refund point they have used, they should check what other operators are in their area.”

2nd of February 2019 | Tweed Daily News

Envirobank Container Refund Locations require special bags, Envirobank runs out of special bags!

On top of the Envirobank 50 item per bag policy which if you disregard and put in 49 or 51 items will see your whole bag forfeited and beside the fact that you cannot physically put in 50 1.25l bottles now Envirobank has run out of bags and faced long delays in obtaining more.

Another 250,000 bags have arrived taking the total number of bags in circulation in Queensland to over 600,000 and more are on the way! And to further increase the costs of recycling you can now only have 3 bags at a time so $15 is the maximum that you can earn in a single trip to an Envirobank run facility no matter how far you travel. Using the ATOs 66c per km rate this means once you exceed a 22km round trip you are losing money not taking into account time and other costs.

Container refund locations source of frustrations

COMPLAINTS have continued to swamp the Envirobank recycling centres as people vent their frustrations over a lack of bags, padlocks on machines and strict refunding rules.

The Queensland Government introduced the container refund scheme on November 1 last year which provides a 10 cent refund payment for select bottles and cans.

Envirobank has more than 30 recycling sites around southeast Queensland.

A common complaint has been about the difficulty getting the required bags to use the recycling machines, despite businesses near each deposit location stocking bags.

Residents have taken to Facebook to air their gripes, with some claiming their local location has been out of bags up to six times when they’ve tried to recycle or the deposit box was locked.

“Bags would be a bonus and unlocking the container at Peregian Springs,” wrote Gail Gear.

“(It) wasn’t unlocked yesterday despite all your advertising saying it would be closed New Year’s Day not New Year’s Eve.”

The company also recently announced, to mixed reactions, that users have to have 50 items in each bag.

“The service is not focused on penalising people for miscounting their bags and while the scheme is still new we will of course exercise leniency when initially presented with ineligible items,” a Envirobank spokesperson wrote on its Facebook.

Envirobank were approached for comment, but failed to respond.

4th of January 2019 | Sunshine Coast Daily

The confusing part of Envirobank’s statement is that they claim that many of the existing 350,000 bags have been taken for other purposes but they claim that there are now 600,000 bags available with the 250,000 that just arrived!

A letter from the Managing Director

Brace yourselves for some really good news! The bags are back. Another 250,000 have landed and are moving into Envirobank’s depots, pods and stockist locations as we speak.

This means we now have 600,000 orange collection bags available to Crunch members across the state. 600,000 of these reusable bags can recycle 30 million containers in a single rotation! And we have even more arriving in the next few months.

Now, we know the bag shortage was a disaster for you – trust us – it was a Disaster (with a capital “D”) for us! Our bags went walkabout at record speed and never found their way home again. They took holidays at the beach – disguised as picnic rugs, they went fishing, snorkelling, camping – you name it. But the bags missed us and we missed them.

21st of February 2019 | Envirobank

Where can I get orange collection bags?

Envirobank’s orange collection bags are available free (in limited quantities) at a number of locations:

Over-the-counter at Bag Stockists
Many of our Drop’n’Go sites now have a nearby bag stockist, this should be your first port-of-call when looking for orange bags. These retailers have been generous enough to offer this service to support their local community to please don’t forget to show them your appreciation!
(*Please note: bag stockists enforce limits of 3 bags per person, per day, to ensure others don’t miss out)

List of pod sites and nearby bag stockists:

POD NAME: Aussie World
BAG STOCKIST: Celebrations Bottle Shop

POD NAME: Aspley Hypermarket
BAG STOCKIST: Coles Service Desk

POD NAME: Brookside Shopping Centre
BAG STOCKIST: Coles Service Desk

POD NAME: Cannon Hill Kmart Plaza
BAG STOCKIST: Coles Service Desk

POD NAME: Chancellor’s Tavern
BAG STOCKIST: Inside tavern

POD NAME: The Creek Tavern
BAG STOCKIST: Bottle ‘O’ Shop

POD NAME: Currumbin State School
BAG STOCKIST: Gecko Environment Council reception

POD NAME: Duporth Tavern
BAG STOCKIST: Inside Tavern

POD NAME: Glasshouse Mountains Tavern
BAG STOCKIST: Thirsty Camel bottle shop

POD NAME: Jindalee Home
BAG STOCKIST: Coles at Jindalee Home Centre

POD NAME: Kirra Beach Hotel
BAG STOCKIST: Liquor Legend

POD NAME: Macgregor Home
BAG STOCKIST: Corrine McMillan MP Office (Mansfield Electorate)

POD NAME: Coles Mt Gravatt Plaza
BAG STOCKIST: Coles Service Desk

POD NAME: Coles Nambour
BAG STOCKIST: Coles Service Desk

POD NAME: Narangba Valley Tavern
BAG STOCKIST: Shane King MP Office (Kurwongbah electorate) Shop 4, 232 Young Rd, Narangba

POD NAME: Pete’s Village Bakery
BAG STOCKIST: Pete’s Village Bakery

POD NAME: Coles Pacific Pines
BAG STOCKIST: Coles Service Desk

POD NAME: Coles Peninsula Fair
BAG STOCKIST: Coles Service Desk

POD NAME: Coles Peregian Springs
BAG STOCKIST: Coles Service Desk

POD NAME: Raceview Hotel
BAG STOCKIST: Star Liquor Raceview

POD NAME: Redbank Plaza
BAG STOCKIST: Coles Service Desk

POD NAME: Runcorn Tavern
BAG STOCKIST: Duncan Pegg MP Office, 5/62 Pinelands Road, Sunnybank Hills

POD NAME: Waves of Kindness
BAG STOCKIST: Sandy Bolton MP Office (Noosa Electorate)

POD NAME: Coles Wynnum West Plaza
BAG STOCKIST: Coles Service Desk

No stockists in your area yet? We’re working on it! And as more stockists come come online, we’ll add them to this list and in the location details for each specific Drop’n’Go site on our “Where to recycle” map.

Envirobank depots in NSW and QLD
There may be a stack where you can help yourself to a limited quantity of orange bags, or simply ask one of our friendly team members and they’ll give you some.

Envirobank Drop’n’Go pods
On either side of the pod, between the chutes, you will see a hole marked “Replacement Bags”. These bags are topped up every day, however, sadly they seem to jump out of the holes all at once, leaving none for other recyclers. Try as we might, there isn’t a lot we can do to stop this! So get in quick after we’ve topped up each day, otherwise head to a depot or bag stockist.

Envirobank Drop’n’Go

Recycling Plastic Containers and Lids, why is Australia so far behind the rest of the World?

The different Container Recycling schemes running across Australia has shown once again that not having a single federal entity responsible creates a bureaucratic mess with massive duplication in costs for all involved and a minefield with different rules for each state creating confusion about what can and cannot be recycled.

Not a single state has chosen the Reverse Vending Machine model at the point of sale like successful implementations in places like Germany and instead the requirement is for millions of trips to be made to dedicated recycling sites which does nothing but harm the environment.

The next issue is that most states don’t recycle the plastic lids and require you to remove them before you return them and throw them into bins that are destined for landfill. This is contrary to the practices of other countries that have invested in recycling facilities and shows that once again our recycling in Australia in a joke. Organisations like Envirobank further confuse the issue with their ideas on how container lids should be handled and recommend that you put them into your recycle bin or use them for other purposes!

Did you know that the plastic in the lids are different to the plastic in bottles? This means they need to be recycled differently. Not only that, but if recycling batches are contaminated with lids it can mean the whole lot might get sent into landfill (Noooo!).

When lids enter a recycling facility’s sorting process, they often get lost along the way because of their small size and weight, and are then sent on to landfills. What a waste – right!

When lids are included in the recycling at our drop points it can wreak havoc on our machinery – causing technical issues, risking personal injury, and delaying your Crunch Credits being issued! So always make sure to remove the lids before dropping them in.

Loose lids on their own can be too small to be picked up by depot sorting machines which means they often get sorted out and end up in landfill.

Place your loose lids into a larger plastic bottle, like a milk bottle, before adding them to your yellow council bin for recycling so they are contained and make their way through the recycling machines.

Look for alternative ways to reuse them. For example, ask if your local schools and pre-schools would like to take some for their craft-hour.

23rd of June 2019 | Envirobank

The truth is that the lids don’t need to be removed as they can be recycled at the same time as the bottles and automatically separated during the washing process. If the lid is removed before this occurs it will likely end up in landfill. Some Australian States and organisations will tell you to remove the lid and put it into a recycling bin but this will see it likely end up in landfill due to it’s size.

In fact by being told that we can recycle without the lids this has created an issue with bottle lids now being in the top 5 items being found in beach cleaning and litter monitoring around the world. The top 5 in order of number are

  1. Fishing Gear
  2. Plastic Bags and Utensils
  3. Balloons
  4. Cigarette Butts
  5. Bottle Caps

In the summer of 2016, The North Sea Foundation and more than 2,000 volunteers picked up as many bottle caps as they could find along the entire Dutch North Sea coast. These bottle caps were analysed one by one. The survey shows the quantity, type and origins of the bottle caps that pollute the North Sea and its beaches.

The biggest issue in Australia is that we generally just send our recycling to other countries for them to deal with and each council area differs in their approach, some even send recycling to landfill directly as we have seen many times recently.

The following is from The Association of Plastic Recyclers who have an excellent FAQ that illustrates how far behind we are in Australia.

Caps On – Frequently Asked Questions

I’ve always heard that plastic recyclers needed caps to be taken off? Why make the change?
Two key reasons: First, when recycling gets easier, participation goes up. APR is dedicated to boosting participation in recycling programs. Second, the cap material is recyclable. Why dispose something that could be recycled? In the past the plastics recycling industry was not able to effectively recycle bottles with caps on so the message to remove the cap was created. Recycling collection and processing technology has improved, demand for the recyclable material has increased allowing the current caps on recycling message and process.

Are recycled caps marketable?
Yes. Generally, caps are made out of high density polyethylene (HDPE) and polypropylene (PP) – both of these have high demand from applications in both domestic and export markets.

Caps are usually made of a different type of plastic than bottles. Do they have to be recycled separately?
No. Although closures may be made of a different material than the bottle, bottles are ground into flake before being vigorously washed in the recycling process. The washed cap material is then separated from the bottle material during a water bath float/sink process. PET will sink, PP and HDPE will float. Both materials are then recycled into new items.

Should bottles and containers be flattened before replacing the cap?
APR’s primary message is EMPTY AND REPLACE CAP. According to a recent MRF Material Flow Study, flattening bottles can lead to improper sortation, and they may end up in the paper stream. Retaining a 3D form can help containers be successfully sorted.

Can bales of bottles with caps on be marketed at the same rate as bales without caps?
Yes. APR’s model bale specifications do not downgrade for the inclusion of caps. APR member companies regularly buy and recycle bales of caps-on bottles and containers.

Can I get a good bale compaction rate with caps on bottles?
Yes. Good bale density is important – too light and it’s hard to hit load requirements. Too tight and the material is over compacted, and recyclers cannot break them apart very well. While the answer varies by the type of baler, generally speaking 100-120psi of pressure should allow most balers to compress plastic bottles with caps on. Large-scale 2 ram systems, most commonly used in MRFs, should have no trouble as they often range in the 150-300+ psi range. A single ram, closed door baler usually operates at 70-120 psi. While larger balers of this format should be fine, those running at the low end of that range will generally have trouble securing a good bale. A single ram extrusion auto tie also needs to operate more at 100-120psi range but there’s some finesse needed. By running a load of cardboard before the bottles, the operator then gains something hard to push against and should be able to reach compaction.

Must the bottles go through a perforator machine before baling in order to get a good compaction rate?
Generally, no. Most current Material Recovery Facilities (MRF) do not operate a perforation machine to puncture the bottles before baling. Heavy duty horizontal balers take care of the job using plenty of pressure.

Will the caps shoot off during baling?
APR strongly suggests all baler safety equipment such as guards be left untampered, unmodified, and unchanged to prevent incidents and accidents. Rupturing bottles in a baler can create projectiles and baler manufacturers have included the guards for worker protection.

Are there things I can do to design my products to make them more recyclable?
Yes. The APR Design® Guide for Plastics Recyclability is the most comprehensive design resource outlining the plastics recycling industry’s recommendations in the marketplace today with the ultimate goal of all plastic packaging to be compatible with the plastics recycling infrastructure. Size and shape are critical parameters in MRF sorting, and this must be considered in designing packages for recycling. Items smaller than three inches in all dimensions are non-recyclable per APR. Most caps are smaller than three inches. If they are not replaced on bottles, they will not be recycled, and end up in the landfill.

Are metal caps really a problem?
Yes. Steel caps may damage machinery and aluminum caps may slow down production. They may cause contamination issues in the float/sink process, as they sink with PET material. Metal caps may also cause plastic bottles and containers to be separated from the plastics stream in the eddy current (magnetic) step of the sortation process at the MRF.

My MRF says that they do not accept caps on plastic containers. What should I do?
Please let them know that APR supports caps and closures to remain on containers before being placed in a recycling cart or bin. We understand that for some MRF’s accepting caps on is readily done and for some it is a challenge. Our message is that the market accepts bales for which the caps and closures are left on the bottles, but the equipment and policies at the local level may take time to adapt. Please feel free to share this information or direct your MRF officials to: www.plasticsrecycling.org.