The NSW Government's Return and Earn program is helping to reduce litter in our environment. Prior to the start of this scheme in 2017, drink containers made 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.

Key features of Return and Earn are:

  • There are more than 600 collection points across the state, including in remote towns of more than 500 people
  • the 10-cent refund at reverse vending machines is provided as a voucher for in store redemption, electronic transfer, cash or may be donated to a community group or charity.
  • eligible containers include most glass, cans, plastic and paperboard drink containers between 150 millilitres and three litres – those most often found in the litter stream.

How does this initiative benefit the community?

The main beneficiaries of the scheme are 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

What containers are eligible?

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

Container materials that may be eligible for a refund include:

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

Scheme exceptions

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 or registered health tonics.

These drinks are predominantly consumed at home and are not found in the litter stream. They are also broadly similar to the exceptions in the South Australian and Northern Territory container deposit schemes, to aid consistency.

How do I participate?

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 are more than 600 collection points across NSW that include reverse vending machines (RVMs) in your local shopping centre or shops, over the counter sites and existing recycling centres.