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A billion reasons to celebrate Return and Earn

Published: 3 December 2018

One year in, Return and Earn has recycled one billion drink containers and led to a record reduction in litter volume across NSW.

Return and Earn, the largest litter reduction scheme in NSW with over 600 return points, has delivered positive outcomes for the environment, multiple charity organisations, donation partners and the community overall.

Nearly half the population have used the scheme and 90 per cent say they would use it again. People are now recycling more drink containers than they are throwing away.

Almost 300 community, school, charity and sport groups have raised funds by featuring on reverse vending machines and receiving donations from people returning containers. Many more have fundraised by collecting container donations from communities.

Key figures from the first year of the Return and Earn scheme include:

  • Eligible drink containers collected and recycled is up by 69 per cent.
  • Eligible drink container litter volume is down 44 per cent.
  • NSW total litter volume is down 48 per cent since 2013.
  • 26 million drink containers are processed each week.
  • Record drink containers processed in a day was 5.6 million on Sunday, 11 November 2018.

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.

Minister for Environment, Local Government and Heritage 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.

"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.”

Find out more about Return and Earn.

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