Return and Earn

What is Return and Earn?

The NSW Government introduced the Return and Earn Scheme on 1 December 2017 to tackle drink container litter. About 160 million drink containers were littered in NSW in 2014-15, costing the people of NSW millions of dollars to clean up. Anyone who returns an eligible container to an approved NSW collection point will receive a 10 cent refund per container.

While Return and Earn is a NSW Government initiative and City of Newcastle is not directly involved, we encourage residents to use the Scheme to recycle drink containers away from home and help reduce litter in the environment.

How do I participate?

There will eventually be over 500 collection points across NSW. These may include a reverse vending machine, depot sites or be co-located with local shops, existing recycling centres or a combination of these.

Depending on the type of collection point you visit you may receive your money directly or be given a ticket to redeem at a participating retail outlet. At reverse vending machines you may also have the option of donating your 10 cent refund to a pre-selected charity.

Collection points are progressively being added to a geolocator map available on the website

What drink containers are eligible?

Most drink containers of sizes between 150ml and 3L will be eligible, including plastic PET (#1) and HDPE (32), glass, aluminium, liquidpaperboard and steel.

The following are excluded:
  • Plain milk (or milk substitute)
  • Flavoured milk or pure fruit and vegetable juices in containers larger than 1L
  • Casks of wine or water larger than 1L
  • Glass containers for wine or spirits
  • Sachets of wine greater than 250mL
  • Containers for cordials or concentrated fruit and vegetable juices
  • Registered health tonics.

Can I still use my yellow lid bin?

Yes. You can continue to place your drink containers in your yellow lid bin for recycling as usual. The Return and Earn Scheme is designed to complement our kerbside recycling service to help reduce litter and encourage people to recycle drink containers when away from home. If you put your eligible containers in your household recycling bin you won't receive the 10 cent refund.

What are the benefits of the Return and Earn scheme?

The environment and the community will both benefit from the introduction of the Return and Earn Scheme.

Over the next 20 years, the NSW State Government anticipates that the Scheme will result in:
  • 1.6 billion fewer beverage containers being littered
  • Almost 11 billion fewer beverage containers ending up in landfill
  • 12.6 billion more beverage containers being recycled.
Litter can have serious impacts, including:
  • Environmental – litter damages natural environments and harms terrestrial and marine wildlife
  • Visual – litter makes places look unsightly and uncared for, and attracts more litter
  • Human health – litter like broken glass and syringes can injure people. The presence of litter makes it more likely that litter will increase and other antisocial behaviours will occur, like graffiti and property damage
  • Resource – easily recyclable and valuable resources, like drink containers, are lost when people litter. Even if littered items are subsequently collected, they are often too contaminated to be recycled
  • Economic – a 2015 survey of local government, state agencies, private land managers and community groups found that more than $162 million a year is currently being spent on managing litter in NSW. That is money that could be spent on other things.

How can I find out more about the Scheme?

More information about the Scheme is available on the Return and Earn website.