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Media release
1 DEC 2023

Return and Earn celebrates six years of success

NSW’s wildly popular recycling scheme, Return and Earn, is today celebrating six years of success in which it has seen 8 out of 10 NSW adults participate and over 10.4 billion drink containers returned for recycling through its statewide return point network. 

Launched in December 2017, Return and Earn is a NSW Government initiative delivered in partnership with scheme coordinator Exchange for Change and network operator TOMRA Cleanaway.  

“We’ve achieved some incredible milestones in six short years, including putting $1.04 billion in container refunds back into people’s pockets and recycling 960,344 tonnes of materials. 

“Importantly Return and Earn is NSW’s leading product stewardship scheme, funded by the beverage industry. The clean stream of materials it generates allows for new bottles and cans to be made from re-used plastic, aluminium and glass, contributing to a growing domestic circular economy. 

“Even though it’s been successful, everyone involved in delivering the scheme remains focused on continually improving and innovating to make it even easier for people to participate and increase the number of containers recycled,” said Danielle Smalley, CEO of Exchange for Change. 

New return points and return point formats continue to be rolled out across the state with 618 return points now available in NSW including reverse-vending machines, automated depots and over-the-counter return points.  

Network operator TOMRA Cleanaway has introduced several innovations this year, including upgrades to existing machines for a smoother recycling process, new Return and Earn mobile return point vans, as well as the introduction of new small-format machines in petrol stations, newsagencies and other convenient locations. 

“One of the hallmarks of Return and Earn’s success is our commitment to providing convenient and accessible return points across NSW. We’re proud to continue to invest in technological innovations to make it even easier for people to drop off their collections on the go. 

“We’re also constantly reviewing and expanding the return point network, with seven new return points launching in December, which will provide even greater access and capacity for people to redeem their eligible containers for the 10c refund,” said James Dorney, CEO of TOMRA Cleanaway.  

We are also trialling two new Return and Earn mobile vans across metro Sydney this summer.  

This year, several Return and Earn machines have already been upgraded to the new, next-generation ‘takes-all’ technology which accepts all eligible containers in each of the four chutes rather than requiring separate glass and lightweights inputs, reducing queuing and sorting times for recyclers. 

“Congratulations to the millions of people participating in Return and Earn for making a real difference to the environment and their communities. This includes the many, many charities and local community groups that have raised $47 million over the last six years.  

“The huge success of the scheme is due to the strong partnership between government and industry, support from the beverage and waste industries, and the passionate participation of community members.” said Ms Smalley.  



  • Local government volumes can also be inputted into the Return and Earn Impact Calculator to generate the positive environmental impact of their community’s participation. 


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