COMMENT: Recycling’s in the can with tech-rich kiosk

The Return and Earn kiosk in Bega.
The Return and Earn kiosk in Bega.

In the Bega Valley there are currently only two Return and Earn deposit locations with the whiz-bang reverse vending machines, at Bega and Bermagui, both at the respective Woolworths developments.

On Saturday, this journalist ventured out to give the Bega Return and Earn kiosk a run.  First thing you’ll notice is separate holes for glass containers as for plastic bottles and cans. Easily negotiated.

There is a touch screen and a scanner with several options on how to collect or utilise your refund. If you’re feeling generous there is an option to donate your refund to charity or to a local community group. Curious as I was, I didn’t select this option but local sport clubs, schools and other community organisations can register to be listed on these machines as a recipient.

There is also the option to have a receipt printed out that you would take to Woolies to either claim as a cash refund or use towards your next shopping bill.

Finally you can choose to keep the money yourself via electronic deposit. Wanting to test out the tech, and keep any dollars for myself this time around, I went with this option.

Following instructions on the touch screen – and trying to ignore the heavy rain that was falling around me – I downloaded the relevant app to my phone, myTOMRA, and linked it to my Paypal account. Opening up myTOMRA gives you a barcode, which is scanned in by the reverse vending machine to identify you before you start feeding the tube one bottle or can at a time.

I had a selection of soft drink cans and glass beer bottles (I won’t disclose how many of each!) so I had to use two separate holes in the machine and received a few dollars for my effort. 

From start to finish was only about five minutes, including the app download and Paypal registration. It will be even faster next time now I have my barcode. Add a couple of minutes if you are going to make the walk down to the Woolworths service desk.

A pain-free exercise with environmental and community benefits. And to be brutally honest, a hit to the hip pocket of anyone who doesn’t recycle (and Fair Trading says it will crack down on anyone raising prices incorrectly). Wins all round.

One suggestion – don’t go if it’s been raining as heavily as it was overnight Friday. The Sapphire Marketplace’s rooftop car park has a few collection points for deep puddles, not just recycling. One of which is right in front of the Return and Earn kiosk!