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11 billion drink containers recycled through Return and Earn

Return and Earn 3 mins read
Return and Earn

Return and Earn has reached a staggering new milestone, celebrating 11 billion bottles, cans and cartons returned through the return point network for recycling in NSW since the scheme began in 2017.

Thanks to the incredible support of communities across the state, Return and Earn has become a way of life in NSW. People’s enthusiasm for the scheme has resulted in $1.1 billion in container refunds back in people’s pockets and $54 million raised for charities and community groups via donated refunds and return point hosting fees.

Over the past six years, the 10-cent container refunds have helped families and individuals with cost-of-living pressures, to reach their saving goals and, importantly, have given back to hundreds of charities and community groups.

Charities such as Little Wings have benefited from fundraising through the scheme which supports their work providing free flight and ground transport services for seriously ill children in regional areas. Donating just 20 eligible bottles, cartons or cans funds one litre of fuel for their vital community service.

There are hundreds of charities across NSW who, like Little Wings, have made Return and Earn a key part of their fundraising activities, either as an official donation partner on the Return and Earn app, by partnering with a Return and Earn depot or running ‘bottle drives’ to redeem at their local return point.

Charities are also benefitting from hosting return points across the state – receiving income as either the landlord of a Return and Earn machine or operating a depot in partnership with network operator TOMRA Cleanaway.

With all plastic and glass drink containers collected through the network being recycled in Australia, Return and Earn has become a leading contributor to our growing domestic circular economy.

Return and Earn is delivered in partnership between the NSW Government, scheme coordinator Exchange for Change and network operator TOMRA Cleanaway, and is funded by the beverage industry.  

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Quotes attributable to Danielle Smalley, CEO Exchange for Change, scheme coordinator:

“In six short years, Return and Earn has become a shining example of what’s possible when we all work together to tackle a tricky problem.

“Thanks to support from the NSW community and the beverage and resource recovery industries, more than 11 billion bottles, cans and cartons have been diverted from landfill to become in-demand commodities in our growing circular economy.”

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Quotes attributable to James Dorney, CEO TOMRA Cleanaway, network operator:

“Return and Earn is delivering significant and tangible environmental, social and economic benefits to the people of NSW.

“From providing money back in people’s pockets, to supporting the vital work of charities, and providing a clean and reliable stream of recycled materials for manufacturing – it has made NSW a better place.”

Quote attributable Clare Pearson, CEO Little Wings

“The Return and Earn campaign has allowed us to connect with schools and business throughout the community to raise valuable funds in support of seriously ill children from across regional and remote NSW in need of access to life-saving medical treatment, but also opened up some powerful conversations about making better decisions towards caring for our planet – one bottle or can at a time.

“A huge congratulations to Return and Earn on this epic milestone. We are so grateful for the work you do in support of people and planet every single day, and the light you shine on the essential work of not-for-profit services across the state.”

MEDIA:  Evonne McCabe 0438 459 524


MEDIA NOTE: Media footage and stills and Return and Earn facts and figures: 

  • 11 billion bottles, cans and cartons have now been returned by NSW community via the statewide return point network since the scheme began in December 2017.
  • $1.1 billion in container refunds back to the NSW community.
  • More than 620 return points are available across NSW including machines, depots and over-the-counter style.
  • An additional 3.1 billion containers have been returned via kerbside recycling using the yellow bin
  • 960,344 tonnes of materials recycled through the scheme
  • 2 in every 3 containers supplied in NSW redeemed through the scheme (67 per cent 12-month rolling redemption rate)
  • 9 in 10 NSW adults support the scheme and 8 in 10 have participated
  • NSW has seen a 54 per cent reduction in drink container litter since pre-scheme levels
  • Environmental benefits of recycling 11 billion containers into new containers rather than using virgin materials equivalent to: 
    • 115,000 households’ average yearly energy consumption in energy savings 
    • 490,000 cars off the road for a year in CO2 emissions avoided 
    • 25,800 Olympic swimming pools in water savings 

Contact details:

Evonne McCabe 0438 459 524


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