Before NSW introduced the Return and Earn scheme, more than 160 million drink containers littered our streets, beaches, waterways and parks. Drink container litter made up 44 per cent of the volume of litter in the state and cost more than $162 million a year to manage.
The Return and Earn container deposit scheme is a NSW Government initiative funded by contributions from the beverage industry. It offers a 10c refund to consumers for depositing eligible drink containers at return points across NSW.
Since launching on 1 December 2017, the scheme has collected billions of containers through its 600+ return points and has helped reduce the volume of eligible drink container litter across the state and continues to be a phenomenal recycling success story with measurable economic, social and environmental outcomes.
How Return and Earn is structured
Return and Earn is administered by scheme coordinator, Exchange for Change. The network operator, TOMRA Cleanaway, is responsible for setting up and running the return point network and meeting collection targets, and the NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) is responsible for regulating the scheme. First suppliers (manufacturers, importers, wholesalers or retailers) bringing eligible drink containers into NSW are responsible for funding the cost of Return and Earn.
Exchange for Change
Exchange for Change is the scheme coordinator of Return and Earn. It is responsible for managing the scheme’s finances, collecting contributions from beverage suppliers, and distributing the money to the network operator and other scheme participants. It is also in charge of managing the risk of fraud in the scheme and educating the community.
Find out more about the scheme coordinator on the Exchange for Change website.
Network operator TOMRA Cleanaway manages the return points and ensures returned containers are recycled. It is responsible for refunding consumers at return points and receives a network fee per container collected based on the material type.
TOMRA Cleanaway is a joint venture between a global leader in reverse vending technology, TOMRA, and Australia’s largest total waste management solutions company, Cleanaway.
As the scheme regulator, NSW EPA is responsible for deshahaigning and developing the scheme; managing registration of all eligible beverage containers supplied in NSW; and managing the obligations and performance of contracts with the scheme coordinator and network operator, as well as various associated deeds.
Drink suppliers fund the scheme by providing a contribution for each registered container, which covers refunds and the operational costs of running the scheme.
Under the Waste Avoidance and Resource Recovery Act 2001 (NSW), businesses which supply beverages in eligible containers into NSW are required by law to register their containers under the scheme and contribute financially.
If you are a drink supplier or exporter, visit Exchange For Change to learn more about your obligations under the scheme.
Material recovery facility operators
Material recovery facility operators registered with the NSW EPA can claim processing refunds for eligible containers collected through kerbside recycling bins. Learn more here.