Return and Earn

The NSW container deposit scheme, Return and Earn, began rolling out across NSW on 1 December 2017 and everyone has a role to play. Drink container litter makes up 44% of the volume of all litter in the state and costs more than $162 million to manage. Return and Earn is the largest litter reduction scheme introduced in NSW, and will help meet the Premier's goal of reducing the volume of litter in the state by 40% by 2020.

Ernie the wombat with cash from recycled containers


To find your nearest collection point, go to and use the interactive map on the homepage

Features of Return and Earn

  • Most NSW beverage containers between 150 millilitres and 3 litres in volume are eligible for a 10-cent refund with some exceptions.
  • Beverage suppliers (manufacturers, importers, wholesalers or retailers) that first supply eligible drink containers in NSW are responsible for funding refunds and associated Scheme costs.
  • More than 500 collection points will be established by the Network Operator, TOMRA Cleanaway, and rolled out across the State, including priority collection areas in metropolitan and regional locations.
  • The state has been divided into seven zones, and the Network Operator is responsible for meeting collection targets in each zone.
  • Collection points will include more than 800 reverse vending machines, and may also include local shops, depot sites and recycling centres.

Eligible drink containers

Under Return and Earn, most empty 150-millilitre to 3-litre drink 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


eligible dring containers

Containers should be empty, uncrushed, unbroken and have the original label attached. Wine, spirits, cordial and plain milk containers are generally not eligible. If a container isn't eligible for a refund, please use a recycling bin.

Eligible containers in kerbside recycling bins are also redeemable. Return and Earn will allow recycling facilities to use an EPA-approved method for

  • accurately estimating the number of containers recovered in the facility
  • claiming the refund from the Scheme Coordinator

The recycling facility will only receive the refund amount. They will not be able to claim a handling fee, but they will also not need to separate out containers or substantially change their existing recovery processes.

Containers not eligible for a refund

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 1 litre or more
  • pure fruit or vegetable juice containers of 1 litre or more
  • glass containers for wine and spirits
  • casks (plastic bladders in boxes) for wine and casks for water of 1 litre or more
  • sachets for wine of 250 millilitres or more
  • containers for cordials, or concentrated fruit and vegetable juices
  • registered health tonics
  • These exceptions are like those in the South Australian and Northern Territory container deposit schemes, to aid consistency.

ineligible drink containers

Get involved

There are many ways to participate in Return and Earn, and help the environment and your community.

  • Take your empty containers to a collection point. Collection points are rolling out weekly across NSW – an interactive map is available online at so you can identify the ones nearest you.
  • Donate your containers to local charities, schools and community groups to help them fundraise. 
  • Continue to use your yellow bin kerbside recycling service.

Community and charity groups

Return and Earn provides a unique fundraising opportunity for charities, schools, community and sporting groups:

  • These groups can seek donations of eligible drink containers from the community and redeem them for a refund at an approved collection point. 
  • Charities, community groups and social enterprises can apply to the Network Operator, TOMRA Cleanaway, to set up and run collection points.
  • Groups can apply to become a donation partner on Reverse Vending Machines to receive donations from people using the machine. 

You can register your interest in becoming a donation partner at

To donate a refund to a donation partner, insert your eligible drink container into a reverse vending machine, select the ‘donate’ option and choose a group. Where relevant donations of $2 or more are made, you will be issued with a receipt to claim a tax deduction.

Structure of Return and Earn

Return and Earn is delivered through a two-part structure.

The Minister for the Environment appointed the Scheme Coordinator and Network Operator on 28 July 2017 following a competitive selection process.

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