A cold beer, friendly front bar conversation and oversized parmagiana were enough of an incentive for Troy Simmons to choose Tongala as the site of his second recycling facility.
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Four months before the November 1 launch of the Victorian Government’s Container Deposit Scheme the Yarrawonga-based businessman, who already operates one recycling business in New South Wales (at Tocumwal), decided to investigate his options for a second outlet on the other side of the Murray River.
“I made contact to see what towns were available after both Echuca and Shepparton were unavailable. They gave me a number of options along the Murray so I decided to check them out,” he said.
Part of that process was walking into the Tongala Hotel and interacting with the locals over a counter meal and cold beer.
“Everyone was really friendly, the food and beer were great, so we decided Tongala was the place,” he said, explaining that the decision also took into account the appearance of the town and opportunity to develop his own site.
Simmons Recycling’s Victorian outlet is now located at 6 Greiner Court, having already garnered plenty of patronage from people who used to travel to Moama and even as far as his Tocumwal site to cash in on the deposit program.
The Over the Counter facility has been set up 18 months after Mr Simmons and his wife, Kanda, started the Tocumwal site — following on from the decision of the New South Wales Government six years ago to incentivise recycling of cans, glass and plastic containers.
Mr Simmons said he was already impressed with the way the Victorian Government had set up the program and people were more than happy with the system.
“I’ve heard some people bagging the Victorian sites, but I think they are better than New South Wales,” he said.
Mr Simmons and his wife count every container that arrives on site and the first month of business has been profitable for operator and customer.
“The first month has been good. The only problem is we only have 14 bins and it’s tough to take everyone’s product,” he said.
“We fill them pretty quick, but we’ve applied for more bins. I reckon we could do with about 100 of them.”
Mr Simmons said he had been forced, in some instances, to ask people to hold off until there were at least double the amount of bins on the site.
The long-time seafarer said he had knocked back trips to Japan and Tiwi Islands to set up the business.
“My wife will be here more than I am in the future,” he said.
Mr Simmons said people could help the business by bringing the cans and bottles to the site already counted (in boxes or larger plastic containers).
“I have some re-use bags here that carry about 400 cans. People can come and grab them, then they will be in and out pretty quick,” he said.
People can be paid in cash or via their bank, using an easy-to-use phone application.
Mr Simmons said the biggest customer he had so far delivered 2500 to the business.
“We don’t have the Infrastructure in place just yet to handle a big influx of product, but the plan is to put that in place as soon as possible,” he said, explaining that he was hoping to develop the Greiner Crt site to make it a permanent site.
“We feel comfortable here and get along with the people. That is important,” he said, with one hand and eye on the 10 cent containers that were pouring in the gates of the business on the Saturday morning.
His tip for recyclers, not everything that has 10 cent sign on the back is acceptable.
“We don’t take wine bottles, Yakult containers and some glass cordial bottles,” he said.
The business is open on Saturday and Sunday from 10am to 2pm, from 10am to 4pm on Monday 10-4, 10am to 2pm on Tuesday. It is not open on Wednesday and returns to operation on Thursday and Friday from 10am to 4pm.
• Stanhope sporting groups are expected to be among the major beneficiaries of the Container Deposit Scheme arriving in the town, at the Stanhope Business Centre.
The bowling club, cricket and football clubs are all expected to “cash in” on the new scheme and take advantage of the financial benefits attached to the program.
A partnership between Girgarre Community Cottage and the business centre resulted in last week’s official launch of the program and immediate use by residents of the town.
Girgarre Community Cottage co-ordinator Kezia Talbot operates the service out of the Stanhope centre one day a week and approached the centre about being the home base of the container deposit scheme — given the larger population base of Stanhope and proximity to Rushworth (which doesn’t have a facility at the moment).
“Kezia works out of here (Birdwood Ave business centre in Stanhope) on a Friday. She had been keeping an eye out for for the Container Deposit Scheme and put in for an application several months ago,” Stanhope community leader Glenda Cowie said.
The Stanhope site has four bins and products are collected once a week by the VISY company that holds the northern Victorian licence.
“We only started on Monday (November 20). People can come straight to the business centre and drop the containers in the bins we have provided or they can take larger amounts straight to the lock-up area which has been loaned to us by Knights,” Mrs Cowie said.
She said people had been bringing in boxes of plastic bottles, cans and glass containers, with the biggest collection having been 480 cans.
“People get 10 and we get six cents. The customers can donate it back to the Girgarre Community Cottage if they want to, take cash or have it put in their bank account through the app,” Mrs Cowie said.
The business centre is open six days a week for recycling purposes and already has the services of four volunteers for Saturday and Sunday mornings.
“We have decided to open up everything on those days, so people can now use the library and other services as well,” she said.