What is Return and Earn?
Return and Earn is the largest litter reduction initiative introduced in NSW, which commenced on 1 December 2017.
Littering impacts all of us. It spoils our environment, costs millions of dollars to clean up, and is associated with anti-social behaviour. Drink container litter makes up 44 per cent of the volume of all litter across NSW.
Return and Earn will reduce the number of drink containers in the litter stream and help to meet the Premier’s goal of reducing the volume of litter in NSW by 40 per cent by 2020.
How does Return and Earn work?
Collect eligible containers and return them at an return points to earn 10 cents per container. This refund can be in the form of a voucher to redeem as cash or at a retail partner, or a digital refund via PayPal, or you can donate your refund to a donation partner.
What is a return point?
A return point is a place where you can return your eligible containers. A return point is either a reverse vending machine (RVM), Automated Depot (AD) an Over the Counter (OTC) Partner or a Donation Station. You can find detailed information about each of these return points here.
How many return points are there across NSW?
There are already more than 600 return points across NSW and more are rolling out each week.
What is a Reverse Vending Machine?
A reverse vending machine (RVM) is the opposite of a drink dispensing machine.
You place an empty eligible drink container into the RVM, the container is scanned to verify it is eligible and the person either:
- Receives a retail voucher which can be can redeemed for cash or an in-store credit at a partnering retailer (such as Woolworths).
- Receives an electronic funds transfer to their registered PayPal account via the myTOMRA app..
- Donates your refund to a donation partner listed on the machine.
These machines do not hold cash.
- Can I find out if a RVM is full before I visit the site?
What drink containers are eligible?
Use our eligibility tool below to determine if your container is or is not eligible for a refund.
In general, most 150ml to three litre beverage containers are eligible for a 10 cent refund provided they are made from glass, plastic, aluminium, steel or liquid paperboard. Containers need to be empty, uncrushed, unbroken, and have the original label intact.
What drink containers are NOT eligible?
150ml to 3 litres containers NOT eligible for a 10 cent refund include:
- Plain milk (or milk substitutes)
- 1 litre or more of: flavoured milk, pure fruit/vegetable juice, wine and water casks
- Wine and spirits in glass containers
- Wine sachets of 250 millilitres or more
- Cordials and concentrated fruit/vegetable juices
- Registered health tonics.
Are growlers and squealers eligible for a refund?
Growlers and squealers are types of containers mainly used by breweries to sell beer.
A growler or squealer that is not sealed for the purposes of transport or storage before its sale, delivery, or use or consumption of its contents, is not covered under the scheme (refer to section 22 of the Waste Avoidance and Resource Recovery Act 2001).
For example, growlers or squealers that a consumer:
- purchases empty
- brings into the store to be filled with a beverage such as beer
- then takes away.
are not covered under the scheme.
However, if a growler or squealer is sealed before being transported or stored for retail purposes, it is eligible for a refund. This is the case even if the container is refillable and is used for future purchases of e.g. beer.
Where can I get a refund?
Eligible containers can be redeemed for a 10 cent refund at a return point. A return point can either be a RVM, OTC or AD. More information about refunds can be found here.
What refund options are available at an RVM?
When you use a reverse vending machine to return their containers have three options to receive a refund payment:
- Receive a retail voucher which can be redeemed for cash or an in-store credit
at a participating retailer.
- Receive a direct payment to your registered PayPal account via the myTOMRA app.
- Donate your refund to a charity, school or community group featured on a Reverse Vending Machine.
- Receive a retail voucher which can be redeemed for cash or an in-store credit
How can I get the refund?
To be able to redeem an eligible container, the container needs to be empty, uncrushed, unbroken and with the original label attached. Eligible containers must be returned to a return point to get the refund.
Get more information about refunds here.
Get more information about our different types of return points here.
Can I crush my cans and bottles?
No. Do not crush containers prior to redeeming your refund. The container must be readily identifiable as an eligible container to receive a refund. Crushing may render such identification difficult or impossible and return points will reject crushed containers.
Can I keep using kerbside recycling?
Eligible containers can continue to be placed in the kerbside system, and kerbside recycling will continue to be important for containers that are typically consumed at home – some of which aren’t eligible for a refund through Return and Earn.
Kerbside recycling will continue to be processed at recycling facilities where it is sorted and baled to be sold as a commodity and recycled into something new.
What happens to the containers that I put in my kerbside recycling?
You will not personally receive the refund if you put containers in kerbside recycling. However, the operators of material recovery facilities that process the material collected in kerbside recycling will be permitted to claim the 10 cent refund on eligible containers that they process. It is expected that these operators will negotiate to share a part of these refunds with the relevant councils. In that case, this may result in improved waste services in your area.
What happens if my container doesn’t have a label?
Containers need to be empty, unbroken, uncrushed and have their original label intact for redemption. If your container does not have a label it may not be recognised as an eligible container and will not be eligible for a refund.
Does my RVM voucher expire?
RVM vouchers expire after three years. If your voucher is older than six months, you must contact our customer service on to get your refund.
Where can I redeem my voucher?
Retail vouchers can be redeemed at the retail partner listed on the voucher. Redemption partners include Woolworths, BP, IGA, Coles and FoodWorks but vary at different machines so you need to read your voucher for where to redeem.
Please note that vouchers can only be issued by a RVM not by an OTC, AD or donation station.
What do I do with my ‘eligible container’ if it is not accepted?
Containers need to be empty, uncrushed, unbroken and have the original label attached or they may not be accepted by an RVM or any other type of return point. Containers that are not accepted should be placed in a suitable recycling bin.
RVMs are programmed to accept eligible containers.
Is it dangerous to put my hand too far into the opening of the reverse vending machine?
No it is not dangerous, but we advise against doing this as your containers may be rejected as the machine will recognise your arm as a foreign object instead of container.
How do I get a electronic refund?
Download the myTOMRA App from Google Play or iTunes App Stores and create a TOMRA profile. The app comes with a personal barcode that you scan on the machine to get the refunds digitally into your myTOMRA profile. Open the app and follow the prompts to link your PayPal account to the app before you redeem any eligible containers.
Once you’ve linked your PayPal account, scan your personal barcode from the myTOMRA app when you arrive at the RVM to log in. Place all your containers in the RVM one at a time, then select PayPal on screen. Your refund will be transferred to your PayPal account. For more information visit the MyTOMRA website.
How long will it take to receive my refund via PayPal?
Refunds are transferred to your PayPal account when you select the PayPal button on the RVM screen. The refund will then appear in your PayPal account.
How can I access my refund from my PayPal account?
Your refund will be stored as a balance in your PayPal account. You can use it towards purchases paid for with PayPal, or log in to your PayPal account to transfer it to your bank account.
Do I have to have a PayPal account to withdraw my electronic refund?
Yes. Currently the only electronic payout option available offered by a RVM is through PayPal.
How can I add PayPal as a electronic payout option in the myTOMRA app profile?
First you must create a PayPal account.
Press “add payout” on the profile page or through the “More” menu. You will then be redirected to PayPal to connect your myTOMRA profile with PayPal. Press “Accept” and you are redirected back. You will then receive all future refunds directly to your PayPal account.
For more information visit the MyTOMRA website.
How can I withdraw my refunds from the myTOMRA profile?
First you need to connect your PayPal account to your myTOMRA profile.
Once you have connected your PayPal account to your myTOMRA profile your refunds will automatically be transferred to your PayPal account. You can change your settings to manual payout if you prefer.
How do I create a PayPal account?
Go to PayPal or download the PayPal app. Press “sign-up for free” and follow the steps to create your account.
How can I set up automatic or manual payout of my refunds?
To change from automatic to manual payout or vice versa, go to your myTOMRA profile, select “more” and “payout options” where you then can change payout preferences.
I obtained a retail voucher from an RVM. Can I get the refund from that voucher transferred digitally into myTOMRA profile?
No. To claim your refund electronically you must scan your barcode before you deposit your containers. If you have printed a refund voucher you must redeem it from a participating retailer.
What opportunities are there for charities and community groups to participate?
Return and Earn provides a great fundraising opportunity for charities, schools, community and sporting groups.
- These groups can seek donations of eligible drink containers from the community that they can then redeem for a refund at a return point.
- Charities, community groups and sports clubs can apply to the Network Operator, TOMRA Cleanaway, to set up and run return points.
- Not-for-profit groups can apply to become a donation partner on a Reverse Vending Machine and thereby receive donations from people using the machine.
To register your interest in becoming a donation partner please visit the Tomra Cleanaway website
How can I get my charity, school, club or community group listed on a RVM as a donation partner?
For information on and how to have your charity, school, club or community group featured on a reverse vending machine and to register your interest, visit the Tomra Cleanaway website
How do donation partners get selected to feature on a reverse vending machine?
Applicants who fulfil the donation partner criteria will be added to their local reverse vending machine on a first-come-first-served basis. Local donation partners usually fill the fourth donation partner slot.
How long is a donation partner listing on a reverse vending machine?
Donation partners are usually updated every three months but this can vary.
How much can our organisation raise per drink container?
Every eligible drink container that your organisation returns to a Return and Earn return point will earn 10 cents.
Where do I take the drink containers once we’ve collected them?
There are over 600 return points across NSW. Search for a return point convenient to you.
How do we get the refunds once we’ve returned the containers?
If your organisation has over 500 containers, we recommend you take them to an automated depot which can handle larger return volumes. At automated depots refunds will be provided as cash or some offer an electronic refund.
Depending on the type of return point, refund options include:
- Receive a voucher, redeemable at participating retailers and can be paid in cash.
- An electronic payment to a registered PayPal account.
- Donate to a charity nominated on the machine.
Is anyone monitoring the cost of drinks?
The NSW Government has commissioned IPART (the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal) to monitor and report on the impact of the implementation of Return and Earn on beverage prices
IPART released a progress report on Tuesday 24 April and found that beverage costs to date have increased in line with or less than the estimated direct costs of Return and Earn.
Where do containers from Return and Earn get recycled and/or end up?
The design of Return and Earn in NSW ensures high quality recyclable material with low levels of contamination entering the recycling stream.
Containers collected through Return and Earn in the greater Sydney region are returned to a Sydney recycling facility for processing.
Containers collected in regional areas are sent to regional recycling facilities to be processed. Eligible plastic, glass and aluminium containers are processed for reuse in Australia.
How is noise at return points managed?
Reverse vending machines within five metres of residential properties have restricted return times of between 8am – 8pm daily to reduce potential noise impacts to local residents.
As a result of the change in operational process for these particular sites, there may be some days when the RVM becomes full after 8pm, limiting the availability of refunds until after 8am the following day. However, we believe that any potential inconvenience which may arise at times, is outweighed by the benefit to the local community.
We are committed to working with the community to ensure the sustainable growth of Return and Earn. Any questions or concerns should be directed to our Customer Service/Care team.
How is litter managed at return points?
The Network Operator TOMRA Cleanaway has provided bins next to each reverse vending machine and attends to and cleans sites daily.
If there is an issue with a reverse vending machine, please contact TOMRA Cleanaway on 1800 290 691.
People should also take their ineligible containers and packaging home with them to appropriately dispose of them into kerbside recycling or to reuse.
How is bin foraging managed?
Foraging in recycling bins for eligible containers is not condoned.
People who go out collecting for containers need to respect the rights of private landowners and the law. Tipping bins out onto public land is littering and on-the-spot-fines can be issued against people breaking the law.
As always, we are committed to working with the community to ensure the sustainable success of Return and Earn.
How is disability access being managed?
The Network Operator TOMRA Cleanaway is working to improve access for people with a disability in compliance with the EPA’s conditional approval guidelines.