Reverse Vending Machine

Latest Update March 2024

After four long years of lobbying various agencies and organisations, Merriwa now has a Reverse Vending
Machine. The MDPA hosted an official launch on Wednesday 4 October 2023, which was
attended by David Layzell MP, Member for Upper Hunter,  James Dorney, CEO TOMRA Cleanaway, Cr
Tayah Clout, Upper Hunter Shire Council, Mat Pringle, Director of Environmental and Community Services
UHSC, Jon Stanley, TOMRA and a good representation of community members (particularly MDPA members).

The last four years

Since May 2019, the Merriwa District Progress Association (MDPA) has lobbied both the Upper Hunter Shire Council, the Mayor, and TOMRA Cleanaway for a reverse vending machine (RVM) in Merriwa. We also requested assistance from Dave Layzell, Member for Upper Hunter.

An RVM is a recycling station that accepts drink containers where a ten cent refund is offered on each container. At the time we started lobbying the Council and TOMRA Cleanaway, there were two RVMs in Muswellbrook and one in Scone, but none in Merriwa.

Two attempts had been made at operating an ‘over-the-counter’ return service in Merriwa by IGA and Home Hardware. Unfortunately these operations were unsuccessful. Both the IGA and Home Hardware were unable to resource the completely manual process due to the incredibly high demand on returning beverage containers. We must commend both businesses for attempting this on behalf of the community.

Between 2019 and 2023 the MDPA continued to write letters, make phone calls, and meet with both the Council and TOMRA Cleanaway.

During this timeframe, a number of reasons as to why Merriwa was said to be unsuitable for an RVM were put forward. For example:

  • Merriwa doesn’t meet the network requirements of TOMRA Cleanaway
  • An acoustic survey had to be carried out (any knowledge of this was later denied ). 
  • Sites were identified and later said to be unsuitable.
  • The extra 100 km trip when collecting containers in the Upper Hunter loop was untenable.
  • Communication with the collection company indicated Cleanaway trucks were already full after picking up from Muswellbrook and Scone and therefore there was no capacity to pick up from Merriwa.

The MDPA challenged each of these obstacles and continued lobbying both Council and TOMRA Cleanaway.

A survey carried out by the MDPA revealed that approximately 1,300,000 beverage containers are sold in the Merriwa district per year. If the deposit on these containers could be redeemed in Merriwa, it would add $130,000 to the local economy.

The RVM was proven to have widespread community support and was deemed to be a vital addition to waste management in our district.

Community support was also evident when, throughout early 2022, the MDPA collected signatures in support of the RVM. Ee would like to thank all those who lent their signature to this cause.

On 20th May James Griffin, Minister for the Environment and Heritage, announced a new contract was signed with TOMRA, extending the Return and Earn project. There were, potentially, 45 new RVMs to be set up in regional areas. While there was no guarantee that Merriwa would be a location for one of the new RVMs, it meant we had to continue our lobbying.

Our gratitude must be extended to Dave Layzell who, once aware of our need for an RVM, continued to raise the issue with relevant organisations, departments and decision-makers outside Merriwa.