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NSW EPA 2 mins read



Grafton business Clarence Valley Metal Recyclers (CVMR) has been ordered to pay more than $149,000 in fines and legal costs for exploiting the Return and Earn recycling scheme by double counting almost three million containers.


These were the NSW Environment Protection Authority’s (EPA) first prosecutions regarding the Return and Earn Scheme under the NSW Waste Avoidance and Resource Recovery Act 2001.


The fine was handed down in the Land and Environment Court this month after the EPA appealed the sentence imposed by the Local Court last year, on the basis that fines totalling $45,000 were unreasonably low and an insufficient deterrent.


EPA Acting Executive Director, Arminda Ryan said the EPA became aware of the fraudulent activity after detailed monitoring and audits at recycling facilities revealed anomalies that led to an investigation.


“The Return and Earn scheme is one of the best recycling schemes in the world and it is very disappointing that someone would take advantage of that and return containers they know are ineligible as well as containers that had already received a refund,” Ms Ryan said.


“To protect the integrity of the scheme, containers are closely monitored, and this will continue to help us root out fraudulent behaviour from individuals and companies.”


CVMR pleaded guilty last year in the Coffs Harbour Local Court for the double-dip offences after it paid Glen Industries $57,000 for 66 tonnes of recyclable containers that had already been returned and refunded. The containers were then resubmitted through Return and Earn, along with another 33 tonnes of non-eligible containers, to a Coffs Harbour Automated Depot.


In resentencing CVMR, the Court took into account that the conduct was carried out systematically over a period of time and there was a significant financial benefit made by the company.


Ms Ryan said since this incident, heightened monitoring procedures have been put in place to prevent abuse of the Return and Earn system.


“The actions of CVMR not only undermined Return and Earn but also the efforts of recyclers around NSW who recently celebrated 10 billion containers returned since the scheme commenced”.


“The Container Deposit Scheme has been a triumph for the environment, for charitable organisations that directly receive donations from Return and Earn, and for NSW residents that use the scheme to offset the cost of living and put food on the table.”


CVMR is required to pay the EPA more than $29,000 in investigation and legal costs related to the Local Court proceedings, as well as legal costs for the appeal.

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