About Return & Earn

  • 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 is reducing the number of drink containers in the litter stream and is helping to meet the 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 take them to a return point to earn 10 cents per container.  This refund can be received in the form of a retail voucher, electronic refund to a PayPal account, or you can donate your refund to a Donation Partner.

  • 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 2018 and found that beverage costs to date have increased in line with or less than the estimated direct costs of Return and Earn. More information is available on the IPART website. IPART will release its final report in in December 2018.

  • Can anyone benefit / profit from unclaimed refunds?

    Redemption vouchers are valid for three years. Refunds are only paid to the redemption partner (eg. Woolworths, Coles, IGA) when the vouchers are ‘cashed’. Unclaimed refunds are quarantined until the voucher expires. After expiry, unclaimed refunds are returned in to Return and Earn to either provide additional benefit or reduce costs.

  • Where do containers from Return and Earn get recycled and/or end up?

    Return and Earn ensures high quality recyclable material with low levels of contamination enters the recycling stream.
    Containers collected through Return and Earn in the greater Sydney region are returned to a Sydney recycling facility for processing and on-sale to other businesses to be re-used.
    Containers collected in regional areas are sent to regional recycling facilities to be processed and then on-sold for reuse. Most eligible plastic, glass and aluminium containers are processed for reuse within Australia.

  • How is litter managed at return points?

    There is a regular cleaning cycle across the Reverse Vending Machine network.
    However, we ask that you take your ineligible containers and packaging home with you and appropriately dispose of them through kerbside recycling, or reuse them where possible.
    If there is an issue with a Reverse Vending Machine, please contact our Customer Service Centre via email or call us on 1800 290 691.

  • How is bin foraging managed?

    Foraging in recycling bins for eligible containers is not condoned.
    People collecting containers from kerbside bins need to respect the rights of private landowners and remember that all the usual laws apply. 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.

Return Points

  • 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, Automated Depot, an Over the Counter site 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 over 600 return points currently across NSW. Keep an eye on the website counter for the latest number of return points.

  • Where do I take the drink containers once we’ve collected them?

    There are several different return point types – Reverse Vending Machines, Automated Depots, Over the Counter sites and Donation Stations. Search on the website for the closest return point convenient to you.

Reverse Vending Machines

  • What is a Reverse Vending Machine?

    A Reverse Vending Machine is the opposite of a drink dispensing machine.

    You place an empty eligible drink container into the Reverse Vending Machine, the container is scanned to verify it is eligible and then you either:

    • Receive a retail voucher which can be spent instore or be exchanged for cash at a participating retailer such as Woolworths, Coles or IGA
    • Receive an e-voucher or an electronic refund to your registered PayPal account via the myTOMRA app. For more information about receiving electronic refunds, visit the MyTOMRA website
    • Donate your refund to a charity, school, sports club or community group featured on the Reverse Vending Machine.

    Reverse Vending Machines do not hold cash.

  • Can I find out if a Reverse Vending Machine is open or full before I visit the site?

    Yes, search on the website for the Reverse Vending Machine you’re interested in and all the details on its current status – whether it’s full or nearly full – will be shown.

    You can also download the myTOMRA app from Google Play or iTunes App Stores to see live, how full a machine is to help you plan your trip. More information and links to download the myTOMRA app can be found here.

Container eligibility

  • What drink containers are eligible for Return and Earn?

    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.  These are the containers most regularly found in the litter stream.

    Containers need to be empty, uncrushed, unbroken, and have the original label intact. For more information, visit Container Eligibility.

  • What drink containers are NOT refundable?

    The 150ml to three litres beverage containers NOT eligible for a 10 cent refund include:

    • Plain milk (or milk substitutes)
    • One 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.

    For more information, visit Container Eligibility.

  • What do I do with my ‘eligible container’ if it is not accepted?

    Firstly, use our eligibility check to determine if your container is or is not eligible for a refund.

    Containers should be empty, uncrushed, unbroken and have the original label intact or they may not be accepted by a Reverse Vending Machine or any other type of return point. Containers that are not accepted should be placed in a recycling bin.

    Reverse Vending Machines are programmed to accept eligible containers only. If it doesn’t fit the criteria and the machine doesn’t take it, then take a picture capturing the brand and send it to us by email. If you have any enquiries, please contact our Customer Service Centre via email or call us on 1800 290 691.

  • Can I crush my cans and bottles?

    No. Please don’t crush your containers. They must be readily identifiable as an eligible container to receive a refund.

  • What happens if my container doesn’t have a label?

    Containers should be empty, uncrushed, unbroken and have their original label intact. 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.

  • Why are some containers eligible for a refund and some aren’t?

    The containers which are currently eligible for a refund are those that are most commonly found as litter in our streets, beaches, waterways and parks across NSW.

    They are the type of beverage containers you might consume ‘on the go’ when you are outside or away from home. Whereas at home, you can continue to recycle other non-eligible containers like wine, cordial, milk and spirit bottles, in your kerbside recycling bin.

  • Can I keep using kerbside recycling?

    Yes, eligible containers can continue to be placed in the kerbside recycling.  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 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.

  • 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 by Return and Earn (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, and then takes away are not covered by Return and Earn.

    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 beer for example.

  • Can I leave lids on or off the bottle?

    Leave lids on the bottle but loosely so when these are crushed in the trucks the air inside the bottles can escape.

Refunds & donations

  • Where can I get a refund?

    Eligible containers can be redeemed for a 10 cent refund at any return point. A return point can either be a Reverse Vending Machine, Over the Counter site, Automated Depot or a Donation Station. Find a return point.

  • How can I get a refund?

    To be able to redeem an eligible container, the container should be empty, uncrushed, unbroken and with the original label intact. Eligible containers need to be returned to a return point to get the refund.

    Read more information about the different types of return points.

  • What refund options are available at a Reverse Vending Machine?

    When you use a Reverse Vending Machine to return your containers you have three options to receive your refund:

    • Receive a retail voucher which can be spent instore or be exchanged for cash at a participating retailer such as Woolworths, Coles or IGA
    • Receive an electronic refund to your registered PayPal account via the myTOMRA app. For more information about receiving electronic refunds, visit the MyTOMRA website.
    • Donate your refund to a charity, school, sports club or community group featured on the Reverse Vending Machine.
  • Where can I redeem my voucher?

    Retail vouchers can be redeemed at the retail partner listed on the voucher. Redemption partners include Woolworths, Coles, IGA, FoodWorks and BP, but vary at different machines so you need to check your voucher to know where to redeem.

    Remember that vouchers can only be issued by a Reverse Vending Machine, not by an Over the Counter site, Automated Depot or Donation Station.

  • Does my Reverse Vending Machine voucher expire?

    Reverse Vending Machine vouchers are valid for three years. If you require assistance regarding vouchers, please complete the voucher support form.