Long-time Return and Earner “Scooter Dave” has been a keen participant in the NSW container deposit scheme since the program started, and the Illawarra local has returned 500,000 containers in that time.
Dave gets about on a scooter and any day when weather and health permits, he completes his route to collect rubbish from Windang Bridge in Shellharbour. Along the way he picks up eligible drink containers from residents and businesses who keep them in their yards ready for his scooter collection service.
He has donated all of the $50,000 in refunds to many charities, including the Smith Family, the Sydney Children’s Hospital, and children’s ward in Wollongong, bushfire appeals and the Illawarra Convoy.
“It gives me something to do, and I know that I am doing something to help people,” says Scooter Dave. “People always say that there should be more people like me. There are, but they aren’t cleaning up rubbish like I am.”
In a world that’s becoming more eco-conscious, we’re seeing more and more initiatives implemented to reduce the impact we’re having on the planet – from the single-use plastic bans to adopting reusable packaging and recycling.
Recycling remains one of the best ways to help protect the environment. The benefits of recycling include reducing the amount of rubbish that ends up in landfill or as litter in our local environment, and reducing the need to extract raw materials from the earth to create new products such as mining raw aluminium to create cans. And with Return and Earn there are even more direct benefits for you.
Return and Earn is one of many drink container return schemes that have been adopted around the world, where customers who return their used eligible drink containers for recycling can collect a refund.
“With Return and Earn, you earn a 10c refund for every empty can, glass or plastic bottle, carton, juice box or popper that you return through one of its 600 return points across NSW.
“Since the scheme launched five years ago, over 8.6 billion containers have been returned for recycling by the NSW public resulting in over $860 million in container refunds back in people’s pockets,” says Danielle Smalley, CEO of Exchange for Change, scheme coordinator for Return and Earn.
The scheme is entirely funded by the beverage industry, aiming to place responsibility for container recycling firmly back with the industry.
The scheme targets commonly littered items and includes most 150ml to three litre plastic, glass, aluminium, steel, and liquid paperboard containers. Eligible containers featuring the 10 cent refund mark can be redeemed for the refund.
“Return and Earn is an extraordinary example of how individual action can have a collective impact,” says Smalley.
The environmental benefits of the scheme have exceeded expectations – reducing the volume of drink container litter by 52 per cent compared to pre-scheme levels and sending over 755,000 tonnes of material to be recycled.
Plus the Return and Earn app makes recycling your containers even easier because you can check the map to see where the nearest return points are to your location and make sure they’re open. Another fantastic feature on the app is the container checker which helps you avoid taking containers that are not eligible. Simply scan the barcode on your container and the app tells you if it can be returned for recycling at a return points. If not, they can go straight into your household recycling bin.
Choose your recycling experience
To return your containers, you can choose from four types of return points, depending on what suits you and what is nearby.
There are Return and Earn machines – a self-service option where you return your containers one-at-a time. You’ll receive a receipt which is redeemable for cash at the partner redemption location or payment straight to your bank account by downloading the Return and Earn app. There are also Return and Earn Centres which are larger format indoor locations featuring multiple machines inside.
For larger numbers, heading to your nearest automated depot is your best option. Here staff will take your bags of eligible containers and process them in their automated counting system called a singulator. Once counted, they’ll provide you with your cash refund.
Even local businesses are taking part, with some corner stores, newsagents, fruit shops and some Surf Life Saving Clubs able to take your containers and give you your refund.
To find your nearest return point, visit www.returnandearn.org.au.
Top tips for returning and earning
When you’re ready to return your first collection of containers, here are some tips to make your experience even easier:
- Download the Return and Earn app: use the app store available on your mobile phone.
- Sort your containers before you go: if you’re using a Return and Earn machine, sort your glass containers from your plastic bottles and cans as these are return using separate chutes on the machine. If you’re using an automated depot or an over-the-counter return point, there’s no need to sort.
- Check if your containers are eligible: Use the Return and Earn app to check if your containers are eligible for a refund. And make sure they’re uncrushed, with the barcode visible and keep the lid on.
- Plan your trip: make sure to check opening times of your nearest return point via the Return and Earn app or website. You can even optimise your trip by checking the busiest and quietest times to visit.
With these tips under your belt, you can make the most of your Return and Earn experience and reap the benefits for your wallet and for the environment.
For more information, visit Return and Earn.
All images: supplied
This is a sponsored article produced in partnership with Return and Earn.