10 May 2023

Cape York company ready for recycling changes

| Sarah Martin
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CAPE York’s recycling power couple, Kenny and Stef Reid, have already been accepting spirit and wine bottles ahead of the state government’s plans to gauge community interest in including them in the Containers for Change scheme.

The Reids, who own Auswaste Environmental Services and manage Containers for Change depots in Cooktown and Weipa, said they would be happy to see more containers included in the scheme.

“We’ve already been taking some in Cooktown to enable us to work out what product is there and what sort of quality we can get through education and making sure everything is rinsed and that sort of thing,” Mr Reid said.

“We aren’t offering anything financially yet, it’s more a bit of research and development for us and a few of our really committed local recyclers have been helping out.

“At the end of the day, the Containers for Change scheme is owned by the people, you pay for the scheme when you buy your beer or drinks and then you get some of that back with the 10c.”

Environment Minister Meaghan Scanlon said making more containers eligible for refunds made it easier for recyclers, especially in regional and remote communities that might not have other recycling services.

“Of course, we want to make sure any decision to expand the scheme is one that is backed by the community, so we’ll be going out next month to Queenslanders to get their feedback,” she said last week.

Mr Reid said more than six tonnes of containers were recycled from Cape York every year, providing work for more than 14 people.

“We transport the containers to Cairns and they are auctioned, and the containers are tracked right through to the end product so there is accountability,” he said.

In addition to the Cooktown and Weipa depots, the Reids manage a fortnightly mobile collection run covering more than 4500km across the Cape, stopping at almost every community from Seisia to Ayton.

Rising fuel prices had been crippling, Mr Reid said.

“We’re hurting very much, it makes it challenging,” he said.

“It was hard enough coming out of COVID when we couldn’t go into any of the communities, then the fuel prices on top of that – it’s really affected our finances and there’s no end to it in sight.”

Mr Reid is still optimistic about the future of the scheme, and is opening a third depot at New Mapoon this year, and mentoring Edmond and Phyllis Tamwoy who are opening their own Containers for Change depot on Badu Island.

“My passion and dream is around recycling,” Mr Reid said.

“We will support Edmond and Phyllis through the whole way and they’ll hopefully be able to collect all through the Torres Strait.”

Consultation on the inclusion of spirit and wine bottles in the Containers for Change scheme is expected to launch in December.

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