Councillor Andrew Zbik Seeks Lane Cove Earn and Return Solution

Lane Cove residents do not have the ability to recycle via the return and earn scheme in the Lane Cove Council area.  When the scheme first started three stores in the 2066 area agreed to accept drink containers.  There are now no stores in Lane Cove which accept drink containers for recycling.  Keen recyclers have been using the reverse vending machines at Marsfield and Taronga Park Zoo, Chatswood and Ryde.


Since the NSW Government Return and Earn Container Deposit Scheme commenced in December 2017, Lane Cove Council has requested Tomra, the operator of the scheme, to assess a number of sites within the Lane Cove Local Government Area to host a reverse vending machine.

Tomra has advised Lane Cove Council on numerous occasions that these sites were not suitable for a number of reasons including:-

  • The suggested sites were not prominent enough;
  • The suggested sites were within 20 metres of residential dwellings;
  • The suggested sites presented accessibility issues for truck access; and
  • The suggested sites would need electricity supply installed.

None of the Lane Cove Council enclosed car parks are suitable (including the new Rosenthal Avenue Car Park) as the trucks are too big to manoeuvre in these spaces.

Option Suggested by Councillor Zbik

Social enterprises such as CitizenBlue Ltd have established several locations with wheelie bins that collect drink containers to qualify for the ‘Earn and Return’ cash refund.

CitizenBlue Ltd is a social enterprise and registered charity that has secured key contracts and licences for the NSW container deposit scheme and processed over four million containers, since May 2018.

It has recently negotiated a joint venture (CitizenBlue Depot Pty Ltd) to ensure the operation has the capacity for significantly larger container numbers at its depot in Five Dock.

CitizenBlue is uniquely focused on commercial operations and large venues wanting to take part in the scheme. These organisations often choose to work with CitzenBlue due to the anticipated savings on recycling bills, being able to donate refunds to charity, and ensuring their bottles and cans don’t enter our beautiful waterways.

CitizenBlue Ltd is a member-based organisation. Their Member Groups are all registered Australian charities: Boomerang Alliance Inc; Clean Up Australia Ltd; Green Connect; Landcare NSW; Resource Recovery Australia; Surfrider Foundation Australia; and Total Environment Centre Inc.

CitizenBlue Ltd owns 50% of CitizenBlue Depot PL; with the other half owned by Triple Asset PL whose director has long experience in recycling operations.

Profit from the depot is shared between the owners, with the charities using their share to advance environment protection of the oceans and waterways.

In addition to drop in customers, they have a range of commercial clients including pubs, clubs, schools and high rise from which they collect. They provide infrastructure in the form of wheelie bins which they collect; and signage and training is supplied about eligible drink containers that can be refunded under the scheme.

Resolution to Be Discussed at Lane Cove Council Meeting

Councillor Zbik has put forward the following recommendation:

That Lane Cove Council:-

  1. Take the initiative this calendar year to host a meeting with CitizenBlue Limited or other appropriate operator and local Primary Schools and Primary Schools Parent & Citizen Associations to discuss offering collection points/ wheelie bins at local primary schools;
  2. Identify what sites it may be able to offer to host collection points / wheelie bins at Council owned and operated facilities including but not limited to the Market Square Carpark;
  3. Identify what local charities or Council programs could benefit from the funds earned from the collection points/wheelie bins at Council owned and operated facilities;
  4. Continue to approach Tomra with suggestions for a permanent Return and Earn reverse vending machine in the Lane Cove LGA;
  5. Consider the suitability of a Return and Earn reverse vending machine to be incorporated into any further development or project initiated by Council or involving a Voluntary Planning Agreement; and
  6. Provide a report back to Council by December 2019 outlining what local collections points / wheelie bins have been able to be established at local Schools and Council venues where deemed appropriate.

This is a good first step to encouraging people to recycle their drink containers.  Lane Cove Council should also be doing more to educate residents that the expensive recycling bins in the Lane Cove Plaza and Blackman Park are only to be used for recycling bottles and cans.  ITC raised the issue that these bins are be emptied into general rubbish. Read more here about Lane Cove Council’s messy recycling problem.

What do yo think?  Would this system work in Lane Cove?

Update – At Lane Cove Council Meeting on Monday 22nd July 2019, not all councillors (in particular Councillor Scott Bennison) was in favour of the original motion and it was decided to have a council workshop on the proposal.   This means a delay in implementing any scheme.  Councillor Scott Bennison did request that the Lane Cove Council write to the relevant State Minister and ask them to put pressure on Tomra to find a suitable site in Lane Cove for a earn and return scheme.

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  1. I have emailed the council regarding this : see below…
    To whom it may concern.
    My name is Danielle Edwards and I am a resident in the local area of Lane Cove Council. I am concern about the ability of residents to reduce the waste and support recycling. In particular drink containers. In doing so I have reviewed your website and the location of a return and earn ‘Reverse vending machine’ and noticed that the closest facility is in Chatswood or North Ryde. Why hasn’t the council found a location to support the many residents of Lane Cove that would support a recycling effort in this day and age.
    In reviewing potential areas for the establishment of a recycling site, I have identified several sites due to requirement of trucks, space allocation and safe pedestrian access. As identified in my research from your own website. Those potential sites could be either as an example: Sera street car park behind Coles and carpark between council chambers and lane cove pool.
    I believe this initiative would advance the lane cove council’s interaction with community to the next level.
    I appreciate your comments in return
    Kind Regards
    Danielle Edwards
    Apologies for the delay in getting back to you and thank you for your email regarding locations for CDS redemption in the LGA.
    As you will be aware, the scheme commenced on 1 December, 2017 as an initiative of the State Government to reduce litter by 40%. The scheme has been a resounding success with litter reductions of over 60% to date and over 2 billion containers have been put through the scheme.
    We are aware that there are no locations of either drop off points or reverse vending machines (RVM’s) in the Lane Cove LGA and we continue to liaise with Return and Earn and Tomra/Cleanaway to find locations that suit the requirements of all parties. RVM’s are located at Woolworths, Epping Rd, Marsfield and Macquarie Shopping centre which are the closest at this point.
    Council encourages you to continue to recycle by putting containers and glassware in your yellow lid recycling bin in the meantime.
    With kind regards
    Cate Alder | Waste Contract Coordinator