Renee Cluff

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Cash for container scheme off to a bottler start in Tropical North Queensland

Cans are being counted and cash handed over as Queensland’s container refund scheme gets underway.

Minister for Environment, Leeanne Enoch, today officially launched the incentive scheme, which is aimed at reducing the amount of recyclable litter that enters the environment.

Ten cents is being given for every eligible drink container which is handed in.

“This doesn’t just make sense, it makes ten cents,” Minister Enoch said.

Of the 232 collection points across the state, 28 are based north of Townsville.

They have been set up as far west as Atherton and north to Mapoon on Cape York.

Several are along the coast, including in Cairns, Tully, Innisfail, Gordonvale, Mossman, Yarrabah and Ingham.

Containers 4 Change FNQ operates several of the drop-off centres.

Owner Debra Maloney told TropicNow it’s the first time she has been in the business of recycling.

“Counting cans isn’t something I’ve done before.

“It came up a few months ago through a friend in Brisbane and we decided to give it a go.”

Ms Maloney said day one has been steady.

“It’s been a little bit busy, particularly at Gordonvale for the first day, but I imagine the weekend will be the busiest time and that’s when the pop-up outlets will be open.”

She said collection points have had good support from charities, including Scouts, the Men’s Shed and disability services, who have taken the opportunity to earn a little extra cash.

The Cairns Regional Council will also be sending eligible containers from kerbside recycling bins to collection points but Mayor Bob Manning said he doesn't expect it will result in much profit.

"Using a predetermined formula Council will receive 9.1 cents per item.

"This approach has been established by the State Government, in part, as a form of compensation for the drop in commodity costs caused by China’s ban on importing recyclables," he said.

"While Council will receive some income from the scheme, this offsets the cost of collection."

What can be recycled?

Refunds will be given for most aluminium, glass, plastic, steel and liquid paperboard containers between 150ml and 3L.

By the end of 2020, all eligible containers will have to display a refund marking, to make it easier to see which containers can be returned.

What can’t be recycled?

There are plenty of containers that aren’t eligible for the scheme, including milk containers, glass wine bottles, spirits bottles and containers over a litre that have held flavoured milk, pure juice, cask wine or cask water.

Cordial and vegetable juice containers are also out.

A full list of exclusions can be found here

Who is funding this?

Beverage manufacturers that sell drinks in eligible containers are funding the scheme, including the refunds and operating costs such as collections, sorting and transporting.

They can choose to cover their costs by increasing the price of their products, so you could see some drinks becoming more expensive.

What else do I need to know?

You have to register and provide bank account details.

Refunds are given as cash, via EFTPOS or as vouchers. 

Containers must be empty but not necessarily rinsed and caps should be removed from bottles.

Keep labels on, otherwise the containers may not be recognised by reverse vending machines, which are at some of the collection points.

Crushed cans and plastic bottles can be returned but only if they can still be recognised as eligible containers.

Glass bottles need to be whole and intact.