Community
5 JUN 2020

2020 NSW Environmental Citizen of the Year announced

On World Environment Day today, eighty-one-year-old eco-warrior Robert ‘Bob’ Jolley has been announced as the state winner of this year’s NSW Environmental Citizen of the Year Award by NSW Minister for Energy and Environment Matt Kean.

Bob has spent years collecting bottles, cans and cartons to raise money for local projects in Wentworth Shire, including more than $25,000 for the Wentworth skate park. Bob deposits the containers with Return and Earn, which gives a 10c refund a piece. He is currently donating his refunds to a new daycare centre and a local youth centre.

Bob has saved an estimated 294,000 containers from landfill
Bob and friends

Not only has this remarkable endeavour helped his community, he has saved an estimated 294,000 containers from landfill. As part of the state award, Bob will receive $5,000 to support his great work.

The Environmental award is part of the Australia Day Council of NSW’s Local Citizen of the Year Awards program and is sponsored by Return and Earn, the NSW container deposit scheme’ committed to improving the environment across the state.

Danielle Smalley, CEO of Exchange for Change, says: “We are proud to sponsor the 2020 NSW Environmental Citizen of the Year Award. At Exchange for Change we are working towards a future where waste is seen as a valuable resource that provides environmental, social and economic benefits, and many of the nominees from this year share that vision.”

From rural and regional areas to the city, finalists from across NSW have achieved amazing results through their innovative environmental projects.

In Sydney’s Sutherland Shire, 10-year-old Chase Cross has collected thousands of empty drink containers for Return and Earn to raise money for the Love Mercy Foundation. This will assist the foundation with its work for impoverished communities in northern Uganda.

Linda Sparrow, in Byron Bay is working to protect the Bangalow koala population. She has raised more than $450,000, planted 26,000 trees, and increased awareness across her community.

Also working to protect koalas are the students at Delungra Public School in Northern NSW. The tiny school only has 29 students, but after the devastating bushfires over summer they transformed their school grounds into a koala sanctuary, with trees and water stations.

The Griffith branch of Meals on Wheels rescues hundreds of kilograms of food that would otherwise end up as landfill to make hampers for local community members who need it most. This both prevents waste and gives a hand to people who are doing it tough.

In Gulargambone, the Lions Club has been working to reduce waste and landfill. The club has partnered with local businesses and sporting clubs to collect recyclable cans and bottles to ensure the containers are given a second life, not binned. The containers are deposited at a Return and Earn collection point, with the funds raised going back into local community programs.

Other finalists are creating reusable shopping bags to reduce plastic waste, building community awareness on climate issues, initiating art projects using recycled materials, and more.

“Taking the opportunity to celebrate individuals and organisations that are working for a better tomorrow, has never been more important than it is today. I would like to congratulate everyone involved for their commitment to our environment and contribution to their local communities,” says Ms Smalley.

The Environmental Award was introduced in 2019 as a new category of the Australia Day Council of NSW Citizen of the Year Awards. Each Australia Day, communities across the state are invited by their local councils to participate in the annual NSW Local Citizen of the Year Awards, which recognise outstanding achievements by individuals and organisations.

Local environmental award recipients are then eligible to be nominated to become the state winner of the NSW Environmental Citizen of the Year Award.

The award recognises outstanding efforts by individuals or organisations to preserve the environment, reduce litter and improve recycling, including using the Return and Earn scheme in an innovative and meaningful way.