Return and Earn scheme expands with 48 new return point locations

Port Stephens Koala Hospital is a regular beneficiary of Return and Earn dollars from our local collection points.

LOCALLY residents have been doing their bit to recycle and keep the environment clean by using the Return and Earn facilities.

While some choose to take a cash payment for their recycling, others use their waste to support local charities like the Port Stephens Koala Hospital that take a turn at being a featured charity at local collection centres.

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Now, more return points are being added to the NSW Government’s popular Return and Earn scheme after a new contract was signed with network operator TOMRA Cleanaway.

Minister for Environment James Griffin said the container deposit scheme has seen more than 7.4 billion containers returned since it began in 2017, and millions of dollars returned to the people of NSW and charities.

“Return and Earn started out as a litter prevention program, and it has succeeded in that, achieving a 52 percent reduction in the volume of drink container litter and recycling more than 672,000 tonnes in materials,” Mr Griffin said.

“And now, five years on, Return and Earn has transformed into one of the most successful and trusted recycling initiatives Australia has seen, with more than 600 return points across NSW, at least 330 of which are Reverse Vending Machines.

“Return and Earn is the circular economy in action.

“It’s helping us clean up our environment, turning trash into treasure, and fundamentally shifting the way people think about used drink containers.”

Under the new contract with the incumbent network operator, TOMRA Cleanaway will continue expanding the Return and Earn network with 48 new return point locations.

These will increase coverage across NSW, with many of the new return points in regional towns.

More than 78 percent of adults have used Return and Earn, and two-thirds do so once a month or more.

TOMRA Cleanaway CEO James Dorney welcomed the contract extension and said he looks forward to continuing working with the NSW Environment Protection Authority and the scheme coordinator Exchange for Change.

“Working with our partners, we look forward to building upon the incredible successes of the Scheme to date and the positive environmental, charity and community outcomes delivered as part of the circular economy in NSW,” Mr Dorney said.

The renewal and expansion of the contract isn’t just good news for the environment, it’s also good news for charities, with more than $30 million raised for charities and community groups via donations and fees since the scheme commenced.

St Vincent de Paul Society NSW CEO Jack de Groot said through the partnership, they’ve developed a valuable new income stream to support their work.

“It started out with over-the-counter collections in Vinnies Shops across Western Sydney and the Illawarra,” Mr de Groot said.

“We have now evolved our operation to seven automated depots across NSW, and outstanding community support has meant we will soon have processed 300 million containers.”

More information on Return and Earn is available at www.returnandearn.org.au.

By Marian SAMPSON

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