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.

    The Return and Earn container deposit scheme is a NSW Government initiative funded by contributions from the beverage industry. It offers a
    10c refund to consumers for depositing eligible drink containers at return points across NSW.

    Since launching on 1 December 2017, the scheme has collected over 4 billion containers through its 600+ return points and has helped reduce
    the volume of eligible drink container litter across the state.

  • 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.

  • Why should I Return and Earn?

    Return and Earn is the rewarding way to recycle your drink containers. It is a great way to help keep our environment and waterways litter-free, whilst earning a 10c refund for every eligible container you deposit. 100% of the eligible drink containers you return will be recycled. Once returned, your drink containers become a valuable material for recycling.

    Find out why and how Return and Earn has been a success in such a short period of time:

    Return and Earn: NSW recycling success story

Return Points

  • What is a return point?

    A return point is a collection place where you can return your eligible containers.

    There are four types of return points: Reverse Vending Machine (including centres), Automated Depot, an Over the Counter site or a Donation Station. You can find detailed information about each of these return points.

  • How many return points are there across NSW?

    In October 2020, there are 600+ return points across NSW. Return and Earn is always looking to identify opportunities for more locations to return eligible containers. 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 and Reverse Vending Centres, Automated Depots, Over the Counter sites and Donation Stations.

    Search on this website for the closest return point convenient to you.

  • What are the different return point types?

    There are four main types of return points where you can Return and Earn.

    Return and Earn reverse vending machines (RVMs) are conveniently-located self-service return points. You will find them near supermarkets at over 320 locations across NSW. The machines accept up to 500 containers at a time. Reverse Vending Centres are also offered at certain locations.

    If you have over 500 containers to return, we suggest you visit an Automated Depot (AD). Automated Depots are staffed recycling centres that use automated counting machines to sort and count bulk loads of drink containers. There’s no need to separate glass from other containers and you can get immediate cash or electronic refund.

    Over The Counter (OTC) return points are located at shops in your community. Once you hand over your containers, the staff will count them for you and provide a cash refund. Generally, OTCs accept 100 containers per visit.

    Donation Stations (DS) are self service return points for donations only. They are ideal for on-the-go returns.

    Find your closest return point on this website

  • How can I request a Return Point?

    Our network operator TOMRA Cleanaway looks at installing new return points in areas of need. You can contact them via customerservice@tcnsw.com.au or call 1800 290 691.

Container eligibility

  • What drink containers are eligible for Return and Earn?

    Look for the 10c label on the container to see if it is eligible or is not eligible for a refund.

    10c refund mark

    If there is a 10c refund mark, then you should be able to return the drink container, provided it is in good condition (uncrushed, empty and with the label and barcode in-tact).

    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, make sure the container is eligible for the 10c refund by locating the 10c label.

    10c refund mark

    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.

  • Can I return my containers without lids?

    As long as all bottles are empty, uncrushed, unbroken, and have the original label and barcode intact, you can return container without lids. Please ensure you dispose of those lids in the appropriate bin at home.

  • Should I take the lids off my containers?

    Return and Earn was created to reduce litter, so we collect containers with lids attached in order to minimise any risk of those lids becoming litter.

    Lids are separated from containers during processing, after they have been collected from our return points.

  • 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.

  • How do I sort my containers?

    Before you visit a return point, we recommend sorting your drink containers from ineligible containers and other recyclables at home. The easiest way to check if your drink container is eligible to Return and Earn, is to check the label for the 10 cent refund mark. If a drink container is not eligible, it needs to go into your kerbside bin at home. You will need to sort glass bottles from other eligible drink containers.

    We recommend collecting and carrying your containers in reusable tubs to ensure you don’t leave anything behind at the return points.

  • 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.

  • Who gets the refund for 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.

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.

    There are no cash refunds. The 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 available, 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.

  • How can I see if the machine is available and open?

    In the return points search bar, you can type in the name or postcode of your town or area and click on the particular return point you would like to
    visit. A pop-up window will appear on the return points map. Click on ‘More info‘.

     

    Once you open the return point page, it will have the name and the opening hours of the return point at the top of the page. Immediately below that is a bar. This bar will be green (Available), orange (Nearly full) or red (Full and not available for returns at that time). This will let you know the status for glass returns, then the message will change to advise the state for plastic, cans and cartons. This status will let you know if the machine is open, near to or at capacity.

  • The return point is filthy.

    Our Network Operator, TOMRA Cleanaway, regularly services over 600 return points across the state. Report an unclean return point by emailing customerservice@tcnsw.com.au or calling TOMRA Cleanaway on 1800 290 691.

  • What are you doing to stop people leaving their rubbish at the return points?

    The scheme was established to reduce litter and encourage the recycling of drink containers, so we don’t like to see rubbish at our return points.

    Our Network Operator, TOMRA Cleanaway, regularly services over 600 return points across the state.
    The team at Return and Earn regularly put out communications on container eligibility and the importance of using a reusable tub or basket to collect and carry containers to keep the sites clean and tidy.

    Whilst it does take a while to educate participants on the best way to return, we’re already seeing the adoption of positive behaviours.

    Report an unclean return point by emailing customerservice@tcnsw.com.au or calling TOMRA Cleanaway on 1800 290 691.

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.

Electronic refunds

  • How do I get an 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 direct payment 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 Reverse Vending Machine to log in. Place all your containers in the Reverse Vending Machine one at a time, then select PayPal on screen. Your refund will be credited to your PayPal account. For more information visit here.

  • What is the myTOMRA app and how do I use it?

    The myTOMRA app offers fast, secure and convenient refunds when you return your eligible drink containers. You can also keep all of your digital e-vouchers in on place on the myTOMRA app, before you redeem them at participating supermarkets for cash or purchases.

    You can use the app at any return point across NSW, to use it:

    1. Scan your personal myTOMRA app barcode at the reverse vending machine before your return your containers. You will see your name on the machine screen.
    2. Return your empties for recycling.
    3. When you are finished, tap the PayPal button on the reverse vending machine screen. Your recycling refunds will be available in your myTOMRA profile, or in your PayPal account if you have added PayPal.
  • Why do I need a PayPal account and is it secure?

    PayPal account allows you to receive refunds for Return and Earn securely, without sharing your bank details.

    If you do not wish to open a PayPal account, you can still receive a refund with a retail voucher or digital e-voucher on your myTOMRA app.

    Find out more about refunds.

  • How long will it take to receive my refund via PayPal?

    Refunds are credited into your PayPal account when you select the PayPal button on the Reverse Vending Machine screen. The refund will normally appear in your PayPal account within a few minutes but can take up to 48 hours.

  • 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 Reverse Vending Machine is through PayPal.

  • How can I add PayPal as an electronic payout option in the myTOMRA app profile?

    First, you’ll need to 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.

  • 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 credited into your PayPal account. You can change your settings to manual payout if you prefer.

  • How do I create a PayPal account?

    Go to the PayPal website 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 payouts 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 a Reverse Vending Machine. Can I get the refund from that voucher transferred into myTOMRA profile?

    No. To claim a direct payment you must scan your barcode before you deposit your containers. If you have printed a refund voucher you must use it in-store or redeem it for cash at a participating retailer such as Woolworths, Coles, IGA or FoodWorks.

Fundraising with Return & Earn

  • What opportunities are there for charities, schools, sports clubs and community groups to participate?

    Return and Earn provides a great fundraising opportunity for charities, schools, sports clubs and community groups.

    • These groups can also seek donations of eligible drink containers from their community that can then be redeemed for a refund at a return point.
    • Charities, community groups and sports clubs can also 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 receive donations from people using the machine.

    More detailed information can be found here.

  • What is a Donation Partner?

    A Donation Partner is a not-for-profit organisation such as a charity, school, sports club or community organisation that has entered into an agreement with TOMRA to be listed on the Reverse Vending Machines. Refunds from eligible containers can be donated to Donation Partners by anybody who chooses to do so. Simply select the donation option when using a Reverse Vending Machine.

  • What groups can be listed on a Reverse Vending Machine as a Donation Partner?

    All groups listed on a Reverse Vending Machine must fit the eligibility criteria. They must be a not-for-profit organisation. There are two types of Donation Partners:

    Major Donation Partners are large organisations that have a NSW (or wider) presence. They will appear across the state-wide Reverse Vending Machine network.

    Local Donation Partners have a predominantly local presence where the Reverse Vending Machine is located. They will appear on Reverse Vending Machines within their area of operation. Money raised by Local Donation Partners must remain in the area they are located in.

  • How can I get my charity, school, sports club or community group listed on a Reverse Vending Machine as a Donation Partner?

    For information on how to have your charity, school, sports club or community group listed on a Reverse Vending Machine (including application forms), visit Fundraising.

  • How long is a Donation Partner listed on a Reverse Vending Machine for?

    Donation Partners are listed across all Reverse Vending Machines for six-month cycles.

  • How much can our organisation raise per drink container?

    For every eligible drink container that your organisation returns you will earn 10 cents.

    To find your nearest return point visit here.

  • We have collected a large volume of containers, where should I return them for a refund?

    Automated Depots are the best return points for large volumes, search here for the closest Automated Depot to you.

    At Automated Depots, refunds will be provided as cash and some offer an electronic refund.

    If the most convenient return point to you is a Reverse Vending Machine then follow these tips to get the most out of your visit.

Schools, Sports Clubs & Community FAQs

  • What is a Donation Partner?

    A Donation Partner is a not-for-profit organisation such as a charity, school, sports club or community organisation that has entered into an agreement with the Network Operator TOMRA to be listed on the Reverse Vending Machines. Refunds from eligible containers can be donated to Donation Partners by anybody who chooses to do so. Simply select the donation option when using a Reverse Vending Machine.

  • What groups can be listed on a Reverse Vending Machine as a Donation Partner?

    All groups listed on a Reverse Vending Machine must fit the eligibility criteria. They must be a not-for-profit organisation. There are two types of Donation Partners:

    Major Donation Partners are large organisations that have a NSW (or wider) presence. They will appear across the state-wide Reverse Vending Machine network.

    Local Donation Partners have a predominantly local presence where the Reverse Vending Machine is located. They will appear on Reverse Vending Machines within their area of operation. Money raised by Local Donation Partners must remain in the area they are located in.

     

  • How long does a Reverse Vending Machine listing last?

    Donation partners are updated every 6 months but this can vary.

  • Is there a formal process for collecting donated containers?

    No. Community groups should encourage their members to donate eligible containers to their organisation, and these can then be redeemed for a 10 cent refund per container at any return point.

General

  • 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.

  • 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 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 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.

  • COVID-19 Response

    Can I still return with COVID-19 still active?
    Yes, you can still return your containers at a return point. In accordance with government advice, we ask anyone visiting a return point to maintain social distancing of at least 1.5 metres from others and to practice good hygiene including using hand sanitiser or wet wipes to clean hands before and after returning and to stay home if they feel unwell.

    What safety measures have you added to Reverse Vending Machines (RVM)?
    · We’ve introduced ‘touch-free recycling’ at all our RVMs, so participants now only need to touch their own containers, not the machine.
    · For a cash voucher, begin by inserting your containers. Once you’re ready for your refund, simply wait 15 seconds and the RVM will
    automatically print your cash voucher.
    · For e-voucher or PayPal payout, you’ll need to have downloaded the myTOMRA app first. Once at the RVM, scan your app barcode, insert your containers and then wait 15 seconds after your last container is returned and the machine will send your refund to your app.
    · Signage has been installed at all RVMs to remind participants to follow good hygiene practices; and clear markings have been applied on the ground in front of the RVM as an easy guide for where to stand to maintain social distancing when returning.
    · All RVMs are thoroughly cleaned twice a day, and our network operator continues to monitor government advice, ready to review cleaning practices as needed.

    What safety measures have you added to Automated Depots?
    All automated depots are following government advice, including the use of personal protective equipment and following recommended hygiene practices.

    Additional signage has been installed reminding participants to follow good hygiene practices and social distancing. Clear markings have also been installed on the ground to help participants maintain appropriate social distancing when returning and additional cleans are carried out regularly.

    What safety measures have you added to Over the Counter Return Points?
    All over the counter return points are following government advice, including the use of personal protective equipment and following recommended hygiene practices.

    Additional signage has been installed reminding participants to follow good hygiene practices and social distancing, and additional cleans are carried out regularly.

    Some over the counter locations have closed because the business they operate from (such as newsagent, car wash, surf life saving club) has had to close. We recommend checking the status of your local return point before visiting.