CRUSHED: Some North Burnett residents are unhappy with their container refund scheme, as the contractor pleads for patience.
CRUSHED: Some North Burnett residents are unhappy with their container refund scheme, as the contractor pleads for patience. Cordell Richardson

'Heartbroken': Residents speak out on recycling problems

THREE months since its introduction in November, the Containers for Change scheme is dividing towns in the North Burnett.

Some residents are furious, claiming they have been underpaid or not paid at all, while others report they are satisfied with the service and sympathetic to the plight of the contractor collecting the containers.

Beck Yarrow, from Mundubbera, said she initially only received $3 for her 256 containers, before being remitted an extra $7; still short of the expected $25.60.

She said her daughter Matilda was "heartbroken" at the amount they received.

"I know it's only a small amount but my daughter is using (the scheme to) pay for her own dance tuition," Mrs Yarrow said.

"It's a great way to teach them about the value of hard work.

"But how do we keep them enthusiastic when they are just going to be underpaid?

"She's 10 and stood in the hot sun for an hour bagging them up, the poor kid."

Monto's Helen Thomas said she deposited about 400 containers and received less than $4 in return.

She had hoped to disburse the money to her grandchildren before leaving on a holiday.

Jeffrey Doessel said he dropped three bags to the Mundubbera collection point on Saturday, January 12, containing 146 containers in total.

"That equates to $14.60. The remittance does not in any way justify just how they came to $4.30," he said.

Karen Clement, also from Mundubbera, said she has a one tonne bag at home full of containers, but after her adverse experience she is wary of going through the process again.

However, Kim Pointon, owner of Kim's Kafe in Monto, said she had no problem with the service and was paid her full amount.

"I had five different bags, I got three lots of pay within the week which totalled about $43," she said.

"I imagine when they take them off the truck they only process a few bags at a time and they are all mixed together.

"As the (contractors) said, this is their first time as well.

"You can't expect them to get it right all the time."

Collection in the North Burnett is administered by U Can Recycle, which processes the containers in Maryborough.

Every second Saturday of the month, they visit Biggenden, Gayndah, Mundubbera and Monto to collect containers on their Rural Container Muster.

U Can Recycle CEO Joel Alexander said his company is trying it's best under difficult conditions.

"It's a new scheme in Queensland, there's teething issues," he said.

"If we could pay cash then and there, we would."

However, he said, logistically they can't count all the containers on the spot and still visit all four towns in the muster in one day.

So, they are loaded into the truck, where if the bag or box is flimsy or not sealed properly, containers spill into the back and become jumbled.

The funds from these loose containers often end up being remitted to charitable organisations.

Mr Alexander said, while he believes overall the scheme is "a very good scheme which should stand the test of time", the system of providing a Scheme ID has "too many problems, especially on a mobile run."

He is urging people in the North Burnett to use durable bags or boxes with a proper seal on them and to have their Scheme ID clearly written on a big piece of cardboard inside.

A spokeswoman for Containers for Change said, contrary to popular belief, contractors were under no obligation to provide bags for the scheme's users and that the onus was on them to make deposits in suitable bags or boxes.

Mr Alexander said U Can Recycle only receives a handling fee for how many containers they process, so the company doesn't gain anything but "extra stress" when containers can't be linked to a Scheme ID.

"The last thing we want to do is turn up to get people to abuse us about not being paid," he said.

"We are honestly trying our best."

He said his company was aware of instances where people had not been remitted for up to three weeks after collection by Containers for Change.

However, a post on U Can Recycle Rural Container Muster's Facebook page advises all payments will be remitted within an "expected time (of) no more than 3-4 days."

Mr Alexander said he is currently discussing with Containers for Change ways of alleviating issues suffered in the North Burnett.

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