The most cumbersome and unfriendly refund process
When I was a lad and bought a soft drink, I paid a penny deposit on the bottle.
When the bottle was empty, I took it back to the shop, and the shop-keeper gave me a penny.
In the USA, it works the same way.
If I buy a bottle at the supermarket, I keep the empty until the next time I return to the supermarket, and I get a refund on the spot.
Since I go to the supermarket regularly anyway, it requires no forethought and no effort on my part to do the right thing.
What could be simpler?
By contrast, the NSW system is a nightmare of complexity.
First, I have to return the bottle to a little hutch, hidden in some secluded back street that hardly anybody knows about.
My bet is that 50% of Peninsula residents don't even know that there is a local bottle-return facility and that, of those, 50% don't know where it is.
Secondly, I have to store the bottles, separating glass from plastic, until I have enough to justify a special trip to the hutch.
The timing is rarely convenient, and it's quite often difficult just to find a parking space within carrying distance, since there is no special provision for accessing the hutch.
Thirdly, at the hutch, two (sometimes, three) of the four machines will not be working, so there is another inconvenience.
There is a telephone helpline you can use to report the outage: good luck with getting satisfaction with that.
Fourthly, the machines are very dainty about what is acceptable.
I have a bag of 25 clearly marked "deposit" bottles that the machine has rejected as "not eligible for refund": whoever mans the helpline doesn't want to know about it, and the only suggestion I got was to ring the Department of Environment.
Fifthly, if the machine deigns to accept your bottle, it spits out a refund voucher that is good only at one particular supermarket in the area - a supermarket that I don't use and have to make a special trip to.
This means you have to save up the refund vouchers until they amount to enough for the purchase of some item that you need and, then, make a stop at this particular supermarket, in order to be able to use them: if you don't happen to go in that direction, it's too bad.
If someone were asked to design the most cumbersome and user-unfriendly refund process, to discourage any idea of recycling, the NSW system could hardly be bettered.
Is there any information about what percentage of bottles is actually retrieved through this system: I'd suggest that it is very small.
It is only necessary to make a random check of yellow bins, to see where the vast majority of deposit bottles wind up, which raises the interesting question of where all the unclaimed deposits have gone.
If the vast majority of deposit bottles are just thrown away, where do the deposits disappear to?
Somebody must be making a nice little earner out of unclaimed refunds, but who is it, how much is involved, and what is the money used for?
Perhaps, the Department of Environment knows.
Email, 19 Nov 2023
Bruce Hyland, Woy Woy