How it works

Bottles, cans and cartons make up a large proportion of the litter on our streets, beaches and green spaces. Tackling the problem costs NSW millions of dollars every year. Return and Earn is a way for us all to help solve the litter problem and be rewarded for our efforts.
  • 1. Collect eligible bottles and cans

    1. Collect eligible bottles and cans

    Not all bottles, cans and cartons are included in Return and Earn. To help you work out what can and can’t be returned, use our quick container checker or search the container database. Remember, even if a container isn’t eligible for a Return and Earn refund, it can still be recycled through your household recycling collection.  
  • 2. Take your containers to a return point

    2. Take your containers to a return point

    We currently have over 600 Return and Earn return points across NSW, with more being added every week. There are different types of return points  and the best one for you could depend on how many bottles, cans and cartons you are returning and how you would like to receive your refund.
  • 3. Earn a refund or make a donation

    3. Earn a refund or make a donation

    Every eligible bottle, can or carton  you return is worth 10 cents.  Reverse Vending Machines offer you cash vouchers, electronic payment (via the myTOMRA app) or the option to donate.  Over the Counter sites offer you cash refunds and some offer the opportunity to donate.  Automated Depots offer cash refunds and some offer electronic transfers.
  • 4. Connect with your community

    4. Connect with your community

    Whether you’re an individual, business, school or community organisation there are many ways you can get involved in Return and Earn.

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.