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4 JUL 2023

Keeping marine rescue boats afloat with container returns in Shoalhaven

Locals have thrown their support and their empty cans behind Marine Rescue Shoalhaven’s fundraising using Return and Earn.

The volunteer squad runs two rescue vessels and responds to more than 70 distress calls each year to save lives at sea. Operating costs add up as the boats use about $50 worth of fuel every 40 minutes to operate, and each rescue takes an average of three hours.

To help cover these costs, the squad was listed as a charity partner on local Return and Earn machines, allowing people to directly donate their 10c refunds.

“We are supported by our local community, and Return and Earn is a big part of the community here,” said Deputy Unit Commander Lynne Hocking.

Through the container returns they raise around $700 per month. “It’s a lot for us,” said Lynne, who also sometimes donates her own container refunds to the club.

The Return and Earn program alone covers running costs for more than three rescues each month. As well as covering fuel costs, they plan to use some of the funds raised for new headsets that cost $500 each.

“We were on a rescue with a crew of three in the dark the other night. It was dark, stormy weather, and we realised we needed headsets to communicate,” she said. “A 15-metre catamaran broke down off Gerringong early evening. We had to tow it back in the dark in awful weather.”

Lynne added that container deposits have become a way for people who hadn’t previously donated to the club to get involved.

“People who wouldn’t normally give to us found out about it through our social media and reached out.

“We have a return point behind our club, and it’s an awesome opportunity for locals to contribute in a different way,” said Lynne

Return and Earn is a partnership between the NSW Government, scheme coordinator Exchange for Change and network operator TOMRA Cleanaway.