Return and Earn: A billion reasons to celebrate

Return and Earn is a year old and has collected nearly a billion drink containers, leading to a record reduction in litter volume across NSW and a massive environmental gain.

NSW Environment Minister Gabrielle Upton said Return and Earn has been an outstanding success and changed the way people dispose of empty drink containers.

"Before Return and Earn, many drink bottles and cans became litter and only a third were being recycled through yellow lidded bins.

"Now the trend is reversed: far more are recycled than are littered and the state is a cleaner place," Ms Upton said.

The figures for Return and Earn’s first year speak for themselves:

  • Eligible drink containers collected and recycled: up by 69 per cent
  • Eligible drink container litter volume: down 44 per cent
  • NSW total litter volume: down 48 per cent since 2013
  • Drink containers being processed each week: 26 million
  • Most drink containers processed in a day: 5.6 million on Sunday November 11

"More than half the drink containers in the marketplace (54 per cent) are now being recovered, compared with the 32 per cent that was being collected in yellow bins before Return and Earn kicked in.

"When combined with the 710 million drink containers collected in yellow bins between December 2017 and September, we now know there has been a massive 69 per cent increase in the number of drink containers recovered compared with yellow bin collections over a similar period last year," Ms Upton said.

"While litter volume has pleasingly dropped across all litter categories, the largest reduction is from eligible drink containers which now represent an all-time low of 37 per cent of the NSW litter volume stream," Ms Upton said.

"This means the Premier's target of a reducing litter in NSW by 40 per cent cut by 2020 is going to be well and truly met – and then some.

"This shows the impact and undeniable success of Return and Earn on reducing litter across the state.

"There are 20 Return and Earn collection points across the state that have collected more than six million drink containers, with the record going to Granville with 9.8 million.

"Casula (8.8m), Queanbeyan and Marrickville (8.7m), Carnes Hill and Emerton (8.5m), Marsfield (8.3m), Wagga Wagga (7.9m), Revesby (7.8m) and Dubbo (7.08m) fill out the top 10," Ms Upton said.

Network Operator TOMRA Cleanaway CEO James Dorney said the scheme is a great success.

"The scheme has exceeded our expectations and has delivered positive outcomes for our environment, multiple charity organisations, donation partners and the community overall."

Recycling nearly a billion drink containers is also a big victory for a greener environment, Ms Upton said.

Ms Upton said Return and Earn is incredibly popular: almost every second person (45 per cent) has used it so far and 90 per cent say they would use it again.

"In addition, almost 300 community, school, charity and sporting groups have benefited from Return and Earn by featuring on reverse vending machines across the state as donation partners, and many more have fundraised by collecting drink container donations from their communities.

"Return and Earn has been a success because people in NSW have taken it on and are helping to keep our environment litter-free."

 

* NSW receives quarterly National Litter Index litter counts from Keep Australia Beautiful (in August, November, February and May). Only the November and May counts go towards the annualised, publicly released Index figure. The additional counts are commissioned by the NSW Government to inform NSW litter reduction policies and programs.