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3 NOV 2022

Zig Zag students recycle for their buddies

Zig Zag Public School in Lithgow has expanded its recycling programs by integrating the Return and Earn container deposit scheme and putting the money raised from the 10-cent refund for each drink container towards a buddy seat.

Children often bring juice poppers, and occasionally other drinks in recyclable containers to school.

“We purchased a dedicated bin for the drink containers, and staff take them to the return point,” said Principal Vicki Gilmore. “The little ones can get a bit confused about which bins to use, but we have revamped the signs, and hopefully this will improve the process of taking the containers to Return and Earn”.

Teachers and students at Zig Zag Public School in Lithgow have always had a big interest in the environment.

“We’re nestled under the cliffs here in such a beautiful place, and it just makes sense that the natural world is a focus at the school,” said Vicki.

“It’s part of the history of the school. Teachers all look at what we can do at the school to improve sustainability. We pride ourselves on teaching the values of the environment,” she said.

Collecting containers for Return and Earn doesn’t just boost the school’s sustainability programs, it also supports another social initiative, a ‘buddy seat’ made of recycled materials.

The concept for the chair is an extension of the school’s ‘buddy’ program, where older students are matched with younger students to help them navigate school life. The ‘buddy seat’ is for any student who is feeling lonely, sad or just needs help. When they sit there, their peers will know it means they need a friendly face to come and offer some support or company.

Other sustainability activities students participate in include a garden to grow vegetables and herbs and collecting eggs from school pet chickens. Food scraps from children’s lunches are recycled as compost and chicken feed.

As well as that, each classroom recycles paper and cardboard and students participate in events such as Clean Up Australia Day.

Vicki said that this all presents opportunities for students to learn about sustainability and reducing waste.

“The Return and Earn deposit scheme is a great initiative for promoting sustainability and reducing waste in communities’, says Vicki. “We are lucky enough to have a deposit site in Lithgow, so why not use it?!”

To find out more about getting your school involved, visit


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