Container deposit scheme

From 1 December 2017 eligible drink containers can be returned at designated collection points for a 10c refund through the NSW container deposit scheme, Return and Earn. Return and Earn is the largest litter reduction scheme introduced in NSW, working towards reducing the volume of litter in the state by 40% by 2020.

Return and Earn is operated by Cleanaway and TOMRA in a joint venture partnership as Network Operator responsible for providing handling, transporting, processing, recycling and data services.

How can I return my containers?

  • Take your empty containers to a collection point to receive a 10c refund per container.
    Collection points are rolling out from 1 December – a map will be available online soon so you can identify the ones nearest you.
    Refunds can be received digitally using the app, as a voucher to be redeemed for cash with Return and Earn partners or donated to a chosen charity or community partner.
  • Organise a dedicated Return and Earn collection service through Cleanaway to avoid the hassle and still receive a rebate.
    Businesses that have a large volume of containers can benefit by the container deposit scheme through a rebate and we encourage you to contact your current Account Manager or Customer Service team on 131339 to enquire about our Commercial Service. Our commercial service across NSW will be available soon as we are currently building a service network to deliver on your needs.

Which containers are eligible?

Most 150mL to 3 litre drink containers are returnable if they are made from:

  • Glass
  • Plastics
  • Aluminium
  • Steel
  • Liquid paperboard (cartons)

Containers should be empty, uncrushed, unbroken and have the original label attached. Wine, spirits, cordial and plain milk containers are generally not eligible.

Most containers are similar to those in the South Australian and Northern Territory container deposit schemes, so checking for the SA/NT returnable symbol is a quick way to see if your container is eligible.

Collected containers will be processed through Cleanaway’s counting and sorting centre in Western Sydney, preparing them to be sold and recycled in both domestic and export markets.

Why a container deposit scheme?

The Container Deposit Scheme is NSW’s most ambitious initiative to tackle litter. The 2015 – 2016 National Litter Index found that 49% of litter by volume comprised of beverage containers.

Beverage suppliers, which includes manufacturers, importers, wholesalers and retailers who supply eligible containers into NSW will be responsible for funding the scheme and its associated costs.

NSW is the third Australian jurisdiction to adopt this scheme, with Queensland and the ACT to follow in 2018. South Australia has the longest-running CDS in the country and sees a 76.5% return rate for their beverage containers. They also have a very high landfill diversion rate of 80% across the board.

Container deposit schemes have been shown to have an impact beyond merely recycling rates and diverting waste from landfill. The NSW CDS has the potential to aid local councils by reducing costs caused by litter clean-up. For many communities, but particularly local organisations, charities and groups the CDS can also represent an extra source of funding.

As leaders in logistics and resource recovery, the NSW CDS represents a new way for Cleanaway to partner with government and industry to achieve their environmental and sustainability goals. By partnering with an innovation leader like TOMRA, we’re leveraging the experience of the global leader in reverse vending technology to deliver these services.


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