27 February 2024

Riverina shows its can-do spirit as NSW surpasses 11 billion containers recycled in Return and Earn scheme

| Jarryd Rowley
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can and bottle recycling and redemption centre

The Riverina has returned more than 200 million containers since Return and Earn began in December 2017. Photo: File.

Since 2017, many NSW families have taken to cleaning out their empty cans and bottles and keeping them for a trip to a Return and Earn station.

For every can and bottle people return to the stations, 10 cents is offered as a reward for disposing of them safely. The idea of Return and Earn took time to become commonplace. Now, almost seven years and 11 billion containers later, the NSW Government has given out a combined $1.1 billion to those who have returned their containers.

Among the highest returners/earners is the Riverina, with three of its biggest local government areas (Wagga Wagga, Griffith and Cootamundra-Gundagai) combining for a mammoth 226 million containers returned and $20.6 million earned.

READ ALSO Albury on track to achieve an 80 per cent diversion of material from landfill by 2030

The project’s success has far surpassed the expectations of many, including the Return and Earn scheme coordinator and Exchange for Change CEO Danielle Smalley.

“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,” she said.

“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 landfills to become in-demand commodities in our growing circular economy.”

According to statistics released by Return and Earn, two in every three containers supplied in NSW have been redeemed through either the 10c return scheme or kerbside collection, with eight out of 10 NSW adults participating in the program.

The program’s environmental benefits have also provided outstanding results. Due to the decrease in the manufacturing of new containers, the state saves the equivalent of 115,000 households’ worth of energy each year.

Other energy benefits include the equivalent of 490,000 cars off the road for a year in CO2 emissions avoided and 25,800 Olympic swimming pools in water savings.

Charities have also been major benefactors of the scheme, with more than $54 million raised by return-point hosting fees.

READ ALSO Signs of hope as NSW job vacancy numbers for teachers fall

Not-for-profit organisations such as Little Wings, a charity that provides travel relief for families with sick children, have made Return and Earn a key part of their fundraising activities by partnering with a Return and Earn depot or running ”bottle drives” to redeem at their local return point.

Little Wings CEO Clare Parsons said the Return and Earn campaign had allowed her organisation to connect with schools and businesses throughout the community to raise valuable funds in support of seriously ill children across NSW.

“A huge congratulations to Return and Earn on this epic milestone,” she said.

“We are so grateful for the work you do in support of people and the planet every single day, and the light you shine on the essential work of not-for-profit services across the state.”

To find your closest Return and Earn deposit location, click here.

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