By Susan Hely
magazine, June edition
Susan Hely finds a local council setting an example
Incentives to go green have almost dried up. Now the main motivation to cut your energy use or restrict your water consumption isn’t a rebate from the government, it’s sharply rising costs.
It wasn’t too long ago that there were generous payments from the government for insulating your home, switching from electric hot water to solar hot water, or for putting solar voltaic panels on the roof or buying efficient products. They helped offset the cost while providing genuine future savings off your power bill. Australians loved the incentives and the take-up rate was so huge that the allocated budget was reached far earlier than the government expected.
It is heartening to find a new green incentive program called Green Money being offered by Randwick Council, in Sydney’s eastern suburbs, to encourage residents to recycle. Green Money has teamed up with local shops and businesses to offer rewards in the form of genuine discounts for residents who recycle responsibly.
The more you recycle the bigger the discounts at local shops, ranging from the green grocer to restaurants to hairdressers to homewares and the chemist.
“It’s like flybys for recycling,” explains Suzanna Kukulovski, communications director of GreenMoney. “The more recycling you do, the more discounts and rewards you earn.”
How does it work? You register for free on the GreenMoney website. Randwick Council bins have a radio frequency identification tag (RFIT) identified by the garbage truck that weighs your bin. You get 10 points for every kilogram of recycling. If you recycle 25 kilograms of waste a month, that is 250 points you can use next time you shop, for up to $25 in savings or about $300 a year.
Apart from the discounts and rewards, GreenMoney hopes that residents will take more interest in recycling and learn good recycling habits and stop putting dirty bottles or grimy plastic containers in the recycling bin. One dirty sauce bottle can contaminate a truckload of recycled goods, causing it to end up in landfill.
Kukulovski adds that state governments are under pressure to cut rising landfill costs that will rise further with the carbon tax. “Councils will be able to save ratepayers up to $700,000 for a 10% landfill diversion via increased recycling with GreenMoney.”
While Randwick Council has the RFITs on the bins, the program doesn’t rely on this. Kukulovski has talked with over 20 councils in Australia and overseas about setting up similar programs. She says it’s important for any interested consumers to register on the website – even if you don’t live in the trial area – because if enough people show interest it will spur other councils to offer a recycling rewards program. See www.greenmoney.com.au
What rebates are being offered?
Victoria leads the way with rebates for being green, offering 15 different rebates, according to the government’s Living Greener website. They include feed-in tariffs for excess electricity generated by installing renewable energy, plus home and garden rebates for water-efficient products such as washing machines, pool covers, dual-flush toilets, rainwater tanks, greywater systems and water-efficient garden products www.livinggreener.gov.au
In contrast, the worst states for encouraging green living are NSW and Western Australia, offering a measly four rebates and no feed-in tariffs. The ACT offers nine rebates while the Northern Territory and South Australia have seven rebates. All states offer a grant of $2000 if you buy a new vehicle with LPG, or $1500 for an LPG conversion.
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