In Mudgee there’s no place to return and no chance to earn.
Residents have now had to go 10 weeks without anywhere to return cans and bottles for a 10 cent deposit, potentially costing them as much as $100.
Every drink container purchased in NSW now includes a levy of around 15 cents per can to fund the Return and Earn scheme, introduced by the state government as a way to reduce litter.
The only problem is that several towns across the state are still waiting for a collection point and Mudgee is on the waiting list.
The Mid-Western Regional Council has said it is liaising about potential sites for a reverse vending machine for Mudgee, and it is also pushing for machines for Gulgong and Rylstone.
However it hasn’t been given any time frame for completion by the government either.
Environment Minister Gabrielle Upton had initially promised 800 reverse vending machines across 500 collection points in NSW when the scheme rolled out.
Almost three months later, there are just 111 reverse vending machines and less than 400 collection points.
For a statewide scheme that has collected more than $100 million from residents so far, it isn’t good enough.
People are under enough financial pressure without paying for a scheme they can’t access and for families that buy a lot of soft drink in cans or other small drink containers such as beer bottles, the scheme could be costing $10, $15 or $20 a month.
Those costs add up, particularly as Mudgee goes on longer without a return point.
It’s particularly bad when the government, who chose not to delay the scheme to get it ready, won’t even indicate when Mudgee can expect a machine.
The majority of towns in the Central West now have some sort of return point.
Bathurst has three reverse vending machines and Dubbo has two. What does Mudgee have to do to get one?
The fact the government is now passing all questioning onto the Environmental Protection Authority shows they know it is a problem.
When Ms Upton was still answering questions she advised people to hold onto their containers until they were able to access a return point.
Some people are going to have very big bags by the time that day comes around.