L-R: James Dorney, Ryan Buzzell, David Clancy, Danielle Smalley

The NSW container deposit scheme Return and Earn has marked four years since launch with an extraordinary milestone.

Return and Earn is a partnership between the NSW Government, scheme coordinator Exchange for Change and network operator TOMRA Cleanaway and was launched in late 2017.

Lined up end-to-end, the incredible amount of containers that have been returned through the scheme during this time would be enough to reach the moon and back, or circle the coast of Australia 26 times.

Danielle Smalley, CEO of Exchange for Change, said such results show the power small actions can have on the environment.

“In the four years since it was launched, litter reduction initiative Return and Earn has seen over 6.5 billion containers returned for recycling through its network of return points,” Smalley said.

“This equates to 595,500 tonnes of materials recycled and more than $650 million in refunds going back into the community.

“And with three out of four adults in NSW having participated, these results highlight how collectively a small change in people’s routines can have a positive impact.”

There are currently 627 return points across the state, which receive an average of more than 40 million containers per week. Return and Earn data shows that two out of three containers supplied in NSW are being redeemed through the scheme, contributing to an overall 52 per cent reduction in the volume of drink container litter in NSW since the scheme’s commencement, according to the KAB National Litter Index.

The recently launched Return and Earn Impact Calculator is showing just how much of an impact individuals can make with the scheme, calculating the energy, water, carbon and landfill savings from their container return efforts.

Return and Earn said the impact of the scheme is also far reaching, with 77 per cent of NSW adults having participated, 88 per cent supporting the scheme, and 67 per cent believing the scheme will increase the amount of recycling they do.

James Dorney, CEO of TOMRA Cleanaway, said there have also been a number of ongoing social and economic benefits from the scheme in local communities, in addition to such great environmental benefits.

“Over the past 18 months, as more traditional face-to-face fundraising methods have become limited, we’ve really seen how important Return and Earn has become to raise money for community groups,” Dorney said.

“An incredible $28.4 million has been raised for community groups and not-for-profits via donations and fees for leasing return points. This figure doesn’t include the many informal container collection drives we see happening all over the state.”

The impact of Return and Earn has also extended into NSW schools, to encourage students to recycle and fundraise for projects and charities. A recent survey by the Australian Association of Environmental Educators (AAEE NSW) recorded 52 per cent of surveyed schools are actively participating in the scheme.

“We’re seeing schools use Return and Earn to fundraise for solar panels, veggie gardens and to support worthwhile community causes,” Smalley said.

“These initiatives along with the great environmental outcomes of the scheme are being used to show young people that together we can have a positive impact.”

Brydie Allen

Brydie Allen is the Editor of National Liquor News. She has been with Food and Beverage Media since 2019, when she joined the company as a journalist across National Liquor News, Bars & Clubs, The...

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