Albury supermarket owner Bob Mathews upset at how reverse vending machine is operating

Frustrated: IGA supermarket owner Bob Mathews at the reverse vending machine outside his store. He believes it is not delivering the benefits he was promised. Picture: MARK JESSER
Frustrated: IGA supermarket owner Bob Mathews at the reverse vending machine outside his store. He believes it is not delivering the benefits he was promised. Picture: MARK JESSER

SUPERMARKET owner Bob Mathews is threatening to dump Albury’s only drink container recycling machine.

Tens of thousands of cans and bottles have gone through the four-slot machine at Springdale Heights IGA since NSW’s 10-cent Return and Earn scheme began on December 1.

But Mr Mathews says the machine is proving a headache for him with rubbish, breakdowns and a lack of spin-off trade key concerns.

“If it doesn’t improve I will cancel my contract, I don’t need the aggravation,” he said.

Mr Mathews told his wholesaler Metcash in an email “that if it continues like this till Xmas I will be forced to terminate my contract by providing six months notice”. 

He said scheme contractor TOMRA Cleanaway had promised him increased turnover with shoppers coming into the store to cash their vouchers from the machine.

“We are getting more foot traffic, but they’re just taking their cash and walking out, we’re like an ATM,” Mr Mathews said.

He said vouchers for 37,000 containers had been redeemed with 9000 alone on Wednesday.

North Albury beer drinker Peter Welsh dropped off 1000 cans, the equivalent of eight plastic bins full, at the machine this week after hoarding them in his backyard for 12 months.

“It’s very good, I’d like to see more in Albury,” he said of the machine. 

But Mr Mathews said the popularity is leading to litter problems.

“I’m there for an hour each morning collecting the rubbish,” he said. 

Mr Mathews said the reliability of the machine was also worrying.

“Very rarely do all four (slots) work at once,” he said.

“About 80 per cent of the time at least one breaks down or conversely they’re all full and they stop.”

TOMRA-Cleanway has addressed the rubbish concerns by placing a dumpster bin next to the machine which sits in the car park outside the supermarket.

The contractor is alerted by sensors in the machine when slot lines are full.

It is required contractually to empty the machine each day with the same crew also attending Deniliquin’s machine.

Mr Mathews said he was required to pay the power bill for the machine which runs from 7am to 10pm.

“From a business perspective we’ve got to question whether we’ve got value out of it,” he said.