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

  • 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.

Return Points

  • What is a return point?

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

    There are four types of return points: 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.

  • 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, Automated Depots, Over the Counter sites and Donation Stations. Search on the 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.

    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?

    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.

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.

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.

  • 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 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 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 Community.

  • 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 position.

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

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

    Local Donation Partners are listed across local Reverse Vending Machines for three-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?

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

    Local Donation Partners are listed across local Reverse Vending Machines for three-month cycles.

  • 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.