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Larry the Victorian makes up to $3000 a week illegally cashing in on SA's recycling scheme


Over the past two years, 63-year-old ex-shearer Larry (not his real name) has put aside $80,000 for his retirement by taking part in South Australia’s recycling scheme.

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He works seven days a week, visiting sporting clubs to collect beverage containers that he then transports to one of the state’s depots, where he is paid 10 cents per can and bottle.

But Larry’s exploits are illegal, purely because he lives in Victoria.

Under South Australian law, a person can be fined up to $30,000 for seeking refunds on beverage containers sold outside of that state.

Similar laws are in place in New South Wales.

The Victorian Government announced it would follow the lead of these states and introduce its own container deposit scheme by 2023.

But until then, Larry remains a criminal — despite having saved thousands of tonnes of recyclables from ending up in landfill as part of Victoria’s recycling crisis.

Some days, Larry clocks up 400 to 500 kilometres to collect bottles and cans from sports clubs.

The sports clubs love it. They save huge amounts of money in waste disposal, and are only too happy to give Larry a copy of the key to their skip bin.

He even collects container refunds for some sporting clubs.

“I take their stock and give them the money, so that money goes into the club,” Larry said.

He said this was a potential plus to a recycling scheme in Victoria, but only if it’s done right.

“Tell the [Victorian] Government to do what South Australia does — not what New South Wales is doing,” Larry said.

“If they brought recycling in and counted it like they do in South Australia, every little club would benefit hugely.

“So many clubs — footy clubs, cricket clubs, any little club — will make money if they do it right.

“And the people employed to count the cans, it would be unbelievable. Everyone makes money then.

“If they brought [SA’s system] in in Victoria, there would be thousands of jobs made.”

He said New South Wales’ system was largely automated, did not accept crushed or dented cans, and rejected some containers accepted in South Australia.

Larry works hard for his money, taking only Saturday afternoons off so he can play bowls.

“It is illegal,” he said.

“But it’s my only income.

“I can make $3,000 a week. It’s good money.

“The cost outlay is a lot but the savings are good. Over the past two years, I’ve saved $80,000 … and I drink a bit.”

He said he hoped to have enough to retire soon.

“It’s extremely physical work,” the 63-year-old said.

“My body’s pretty good. I got fit doing it, and I just keep doing it. You stay fit [doing it].”

On top of the sporting clubs, he has about 130 bins he collects on a regular basis from people.

“Bottom line is they’re drinkers and their main recycle bin gets filled too quick,” he said.

“This gives them room to put their own rubbish in their bins.

“They don’t want to see this go into the ground.”

He said he even bought large quantities of containers from people.

“I pay $20 to $25 a [wool bale-sized] pack of cans.

“They’re happy to get that because you only get about $5 off the recycling centre in Victoria. They weigh here — that’s what it’s worth in weight.”

Instead, he takes them across the border — adding to his pension fund in the process.


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