NSW’s Return and Earn scheme a ‘raging success’ for recycling

NSW’s Return and Earn scheme has set the benchmark for collaborative action towards positive recycling outcomes

Partnerships

September 3, 2019

Highlights

“The survey showed that more than half of NSW residents are using the scheme which in turn demonstrates how easy access to drop-off points and a well-planned network of collections and recovery infrastructure are critical to the success of any recycling system.” James Dorney, CEO TOMRA Cleanaway

Highlights

“The survey showed that more than half of NSW residents are using the scheme which in turn demonstrates how easy access to drop-off points and a well-planned network of collections and recovery infrastructure are critical to the success of any recycling system.” James Dorney, CEO TOMRA Cleanaway

According to a recent survey by Return and Earn, eight out of 10 people are satisfied with NSW’s container deposit scheme (CDS) and over two-thirds believe that it contributes towards positive, long-term recycling outcomes for the state.

Top line results from Return and Earn’s June 2019 consumer research revealed:

  • 55% of the NSW population have used Return and Earn, up from 48% in December 2018
  • 78% believe that the scheme will benefit the environment
  • 85% support the scheme and 80% are satisfied

James Dorney, CEO TOMRA Cleanaway applauded the NSW community for their role in the scheme’s success: “The success of the scheme is a testament to the incredible efforts of the NSW community who in July, returned and earned more than two billion containers in just 19 months since the scheme began.”

“The survey showed that more than half of NSW residents are using the scheme which in turn demonstrates how easy access to drop-off points and a well-planned network of collections and recovery infrastructure are critical to the success of any recycling system.”

According to David Clancy, Cleanaway’s General Manager for Solid Waste, the scheme exceeded expectations by taking a year to reach one billion containers and just seven months for the second billion. David estimates that Return and Earn is likely to hit the three billion mark before the end of 2019, accounting for almost half of all beverage containers sold in the state.

“Container deposit, or refund schemes incentivise customers to return their drink containers to collection points in exchange for a refund. They are a perfect example of delivering on the triple bottom line of sustainability – there’s less litter in the environment, refunds can be used to benefit local community groups, associations and charities, and finally recycled containers become a part of the circular economy, extending the use of existing materials while reducing reliance on natural resources.” said David.

 

Collections and recovery network critical to CDS success

Return and Earn has a network of 645 return points across NSW including reverse vending machines, automated depots and over the counter sites. As the network operator for the scheme, TOMRA Cleanaway was formed in 2017 to deliver the collection and processing infrastructure to support the NSW EPA’s vision for effective and sustainable recycling.

Cleanaway’s collections and processing network includes:

  • more than 200 trucks and drivers
  • more than 3,000 clearances on a peak servicing day
  • more than 2,200 clearances on Sundays
  • 214 metro over the counter sites serviced by 150 truck runs per week
  • 65 regional over the counter sites serviced by 40 shipping container deliveries per week

Containers collected are sent to Cleanaway’s Eastern Creek Container Sorting Facility where 22 staff work seven days a week to process the recyclables.

100% of the material going through Eastern Creek is sent to reputable recyclers for further processing. Depending on the markets for recyclable commodities, up to 75% of all materials received are sold domestically which feeds into the local recycling economy.

 

Collaborative action for positive recycling outcomes

NSW Minister for Energy and Environment Matt Kean in his response to Parliament said that NSW is looking into a 20-year waste strategy to find cheaper, cleaner and better ways to manage waste. The Minister called out CDS as a prime example of how a circular economy can be achieved with the right infrastructure and partnership between government and industry.

“The Government understands its important role in using the power of its procurement to achieve the objective of creating a circular economy and will include that in its 20‑year waste strategy. It also means enabling industry to extract value from the waste stream by supporting the building of infrastructure and creating markets through the circular economy.” said the Minister.

“It is not acceptable for the industry to create new products and claim it is recycling when that leads to more adverse recycling outcomes. This is in stark contrast to the container deposit scheme, which, I believe, sets the benchmark as to how government, industry and the community can work together to achieve great waste outcomes. The CDS is a raging success.”

South Australia set up the first container deposit scheme in Australia more than four decades ago, followed by the Northern Territory in 2012, New South Wales in 2017 and Queensland and the ACT in 2018. Western Australia’s scheme is due to launch in June 2020 and Tasmania have committed to implement the scheme by 2022.

Read more about what it takes to deliver a world-class container deposit collections network in this article.

For more information about Return and Earn, visit NSW EPA’s Return and Earn site.

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