2017 marks the 40th anniversary since South Australia’s groundbreaking Beverage Container Act came into effect back in 1977.
Mario Tizio has been the owner of Clare’s bottle depot for 22 years after purchasing the business from previous owner Colin Cook back in 1995, and has since relocated to their current location on Archer Place where they have now been for 13 years after outgrowing the previous site.
Together with his wife Justine, Mario initially entered the business on a short term plan, but they have now seen their business expand as their two sons, Tyron and Austyn, have joined the team.
“My father-in-law owns the Port Pirie (bottle depot), and he bought (the business) first and we managed it for 12 months,” he said.
“I ended up buying it off of him and it was only supposed to be a short term thing but 22 years later I am still here
“I was running it by myself, so I have gone from that to now having four of us so it has grown a lot.”
Summer is the busiest period of the year for the bottle depot with Mario estimating that around 100,000 commodities are bought each week.
“It slows down a bit in the Winter months because people do not like getting out and about and people slow down a bit, but we still buy about 60,000 a week.
“The week leading up to Christmas and the week just after Christmas we buy about 200,000 bottles both weeks which is out of control,” he said.
“The Summer months are the most consistent months so you are really busiest between the start of December until May.”
Up until 2008 collectors would only receive a 5 cent refund for their cans and bottles but Jay Weatherill, then Environment Minister, successfully campaigned for the levy to be increased to 10 cents.
Mario said the increase had an impact on the amount of bottles he was purchasing, although he was still getting plenty of business at 5 cents.
“We were quite busy when it was 5 cents, but I think it has probably grown 10 per cent every year,” he said.
“So if you times that over 22 years it has grown a fair bit.”
Mario said it was important for a small community like Clare to actively recycle their cans and bottles, easing the pressure the landfill would have otherwise.
“It saves on the landfill,” he said, “we are a small town so those 100,000 bottles a week do not get recycled, you have got a huge problem for a town that has 5 or 6 thousand people.”
The Honorable Ian Hunter, current Minister for Sustainability, Environment and Conservation, said in a statement that the introduction of the Act has provided the State with plenty of positives over the last 40 years.
“South Australians have embraced this legislation and we have extensive community support for the scheme,” he said.
“Community groups are highly involved with the scheme, using it to raise funds. More than $60 million is returned to the community each year.
“The scheme has also been instrumental in engaging community groups and has generated significant employment in the recycling sector.
“This initiative is credited with providing between 800-1000 jobs in the beverage container collection and recycling industry in South Australia.”
Over 6 billion containers have been returned in the 40 years the Act has been in effect, with an average return rate of 80 per cent each year.