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Return and Earn Expand

Media release
17 OCT 2022

Cheers NSW! Return and Earn set to expand

The NSW Government’s wildly popular Return and Earn scheme, which has already seen more than eight billion containers returned, is set to expand to include glass wine and spirits bottles and larger containers.

Minister for Environment James Griffin said public consultation is now open on the planned expansion, which would see up to an additional 400 million eligible bottles recycled each year, including 233 million glass bottles.

“We already accept beer, cider and a range of other beverage containers through Return and Earn, and now we are looking to include glass wine and spirits bottles and larger drink containers,” Mr Griffin said.

“Return and Earn began as a litter reduction tool, and since then, it’s become incredibly popular with almost 80 per cent of adults in NSW having used the scheme, which has more than 620 return points across the State.

“Since Return and Earn began in 2017, more than eight billion containers have been returned, delivering $800 million in refunds to the people of NSW, more than $35 million in donations to community groups and charities, and helping us reduce drink container litter by a massive 52 per cent.

“The scheme expansion would boost recycling rates, reduce landfill, and supercharge our push towards a circular economy in NSW.

“Expanding Return and Earn is a win for the environment, a win for communities and a win for businesses.”

Consultation is now open on the Scheme’s expansion, which would see almost all beverage containers between 150 ml and 3 litres accepted for refund.
For example, this would include:

  • Wine and spirits in glass bottles
  • Cordials and juice concentrate
  • Larger containers up to 3 litres of beverages already in the scheme, such as flavoured milk, fruit and vegetable juice, cask wine and sachets.

Plain milk and health tonics would continue to be excluded from the scheme.

Currently, Return and Earn accepts drink containers such as cans, beer and mixer bottles, cartons, juice boxes and poppers.

The NSW Environment Protection Authority will be holding targeted stakeholder information sessions and webinars in the coming months around NSW so a transition can be as smooth as possible for new suppliers to the scheme.

The discussion paper Driving NSW’s circular economy is available here and is open for consultation until 2 December 2022.