Return & Earn

Introducing Return and Earn, the largest litter reduction scheme ever introduced in NSW.

Return and Earn will roll out from 1 December 2017 and will help to reduce the 160 million drink containers littered in our environment each year. Drink containers make up almost half of the volume of litter in NSW.

Return and Earn is part of the NSW Government’s commitment to reducing litter volume in NSW by 40 per cent by 2020.

From 1 December 2017, consumers can exchange an eligible container at an approved collection point to receive a 10 cent refund per container. Containers should be empty, uncrushed, unbroken and with the original label attached.

There will be more than 500 collection points across NSW that may include reverse vending machines (RVMs) in your local shopping centre or shops, over the counter sites, existing recycling centres, or a combination of all. An online map will be unveiled in coming weeks so that you can find your nearest collection point.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I participate?

From 1 December 2017, consumers can exchange an eligible drink container at an approved collection point to receive a 10 cent refund per container. Drink containers should be empty, uncrushed, unbroken and with the original label attached.

What containers are eligible?

Most empty 150-millilitre to three litre drink containers will be eligible for a 10 cent refund when presented to an approved NSW collection point.

Drink container materials that may be eligible for a refund include:

  • PET
  • HDPE
  • glass
  • aluminium
  • steel
  • liquid paperboard

Drink containers that are not included in the scheme and, therefore, do not qualify for a refund are:

  • plain milk (or milk substitute) containers
  • flavoured milk containers of one litre or more
  • pure fruit or vegetable juice containers of one litre or more
  • glass containers for wine and spirits
  • casks (plastic bladders in boxes) for wine and casks for water of one litre or more
  • sachets for wine of 250 millilitres or more
  • containers for cordials, and concentrated fruit/vegetable juices
  • registered health tonics.

How many collection points will there be across the Snowy Valleys region?

The NSW State Government's network operator, TOMRA-Cleanaway are currently in negotiations to establish points across the region. 

A geolocator map will be made available in coming weeks to help you identify where your nearest collection point is located

There will be more than 500 Return and Earn collection points across NSW when the scheme is fully rolled out. The Network Operator, TOMRA-Cleanaway, will be finalising these locations over the coming months.

What is a Reverse Vending Machine (RMV)?

A reverse vending machine (RVM) is the opposite of a drink dispensing machine. A person places their empty eligible drink container into the machine, the container is scanned to verify it is eligible and the person receives a voucher they can redeem for cash in a store nearby. These machines are designed to not to hold cash for security reasons.

How do I get paid my refund via a RMV?

Consumers that use an RVM to return their drink containers will have three options to receive a refund payment:

1. Donating to a selected a charity

2. Receiving the refund into your registered account

3. Taking a voucher into the retail partner to either redeem for cash or use towards your purchase

Can I still use my yellow bin for recycling?

Kerbside recycling remains very important to our community, and Return and Earn is designed to complement this system.

Eligible drink containers can continue to be placed in your recycling bin along with containers that aren’t eligible for a refund within Return and Earn.

You will not personally receive the refund if you put eligible containers in kerbside recycling. Instead Council has the opportunity to enter into an agreement with its recycling facility to agree a refund sharing arrangement from those containers.

Can I crush my cans and bottles?

No. Do not crush containers prior to redeeming your refund. Drink containers, should be empty, uncrushed, unbroken and with the original label attached. Containers must be verified as eligible before a refund is paid.

Do I need to remove the lid from my container?

No. Bottles with lids can go through RVMs without difficulty. The lids are a valuable resource and will be recycled too. We don’t want lids ending up as litter.

How can my school or community group use Return and Earn to fund raise?

Charities, schools, community or sporting groups can collect donations of empty eligible drink bottles and cans for the charity or community group to then redeem them at an approved collection point.

Charities, community groups and social enterprises can also work with the Network Operator, TOMRA-Cleanaway to set up and run collection points in exchange for a service fee.

How do I become a collection point?

To register your interest to run a collection point visit the website of the Network Operator, TOMRA-Cleanaway and fill out their online form: www.TCNSW.com.au

How will this benefit my community?

The main beneficiaries of the scheme will be the environment and the community.

Over the next 20 years, the Scheme is expected to result in:

  • 1.6 billion fewer beverage containers being littered
  • Almost 11 billion fewer beverage containers ending up in landfill
  • 12.6 billion more beverage containers being recycled