Return and Earn breaks records

Return and Earn broke records for recycling over the Christmas – New Year period, setting a new daily record and processing more than 91 million drink containers.

NSW Government Environment Minister Gabrielle Upton said a new state record was set on 2 January, when an incredible 6.8 million drink containers were returned across the state.

“Between 21 December 2018 and 7 January 2019, there were six days with more than six million drink containers returned a day, and the daily average is now 5.8 million drink containers a day being processed across the state,” Ms Upton said.

“This shows strong community support for the NSW Government’s Return and Earn scheme as more and more people are recycling drink containers rather than throwing them away.

“Since the scheme started, more than 1.2 billion drink containers have been returned, which is a massive turnaround in the way people dispose of their empty drink containers.

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Ms Upton said that as well as reducing litter, Return and Earn is creating jobs and helping charities create an alternate income stream.

“Employment charity Hoxton Industries is running Return and Earn bulk depots at Villawood and Ingleburn, enabling them to create jobs for people who would otherwise face barriers to mainstream employment,” she said.

Garry Carr, Director of Hoxton Industries, said running a Return and Earn depot has transformed the employment charity’s operations.

“Return and Earn meant we could expand our operations, employ ten additional staff, and return nearly $200,000 to the community,” Mr Carr said.

“Our mission is to create jobs for people who face barriers to mainstream employment, and we can now do this in new areas and with new employment skills.”

Ms Upton said that, as a result of Return and Earn, eligible drink container litter volume have dropped by 44 per cent and now represent an all-time low of 37 per cent of the NSW litter volume stream.

“At the same time, the state’s overall litter volume has dropped by 48 per cent.

“Return and Earn has been a success because it is backed in by the people of NSW and it’s fantastic to see them help to reduce the amount of litter in the environment,” Ms Upton said.

Coca-Cola partners with CitizenBlue to improve NSW recycling

Coca-Cola Australia has partnered with social enterprise CitizenBlue to introduce more drink container recycling options at venues and events in Sydney and regional NSW.

The partnership will aim to strategically place drink container recycling bins in key venues and events, with the proceeds of the collected waste being sent towards environment and community charities.

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Drink containers collected in these bins will be collected and sorted through the NSW Return and Earn scheme.

The bins are expected to help collect around 7.5 million containers per year, leading to an estimated $750,000 in funds raised.

CitizenBlue is a collective of seven environmental not for profit organisations, including Total Environment Centre, Surfrider Foundation and Landcare NSW.

“We’re on a mission to stop waste from entering our waterways and Coca-Cola has a big goal to ensure that every drink bottle and can they sell is collected and recycled,” said Jeff Angel for CitizenBlue.

“This partnership is a first step towards both not-for-profit groups and a major beverage leader working together to tackle our waste issue.”

The NSW Government has reported a 44 per cent drop in drink containers in the litter stream since November 2017.

Surfrider Foundation Australia Chairperson Susie Crick said CitizenBlue’s aim is for these activities to enhance and promote the existing recycling efforts through the container deposit scheme in NSW.

“More organisations and businesses coming together to find solutions to tackle waste and recycling is better for the environment, the sector, not to mention a funding boost for charities,” she said.

The partnership forms part of Coca-Cola’s recently announced global sustainable packaging strategy, which includes a goal to collect and recycle and equivalent of 100 per cent of the packaging they sell by 2030.

Director Public Affairs and Sustainability at Coca-Cola South Pacific Christine Black said the company is focusing its efforts locally on designing packaging to be 100 per cent recyclable across its entire portfolio.

“This partnership is part of the next step for Cola-Cola in tackling drink container waste, whilst inspiring positive change to ensure our bottles and cans have another life beyond their first use,” Ms Black said.

The collection bins are expected to roll out in the early new year at festivals and venues in NSW.

Return and Earn hits one billion mark

More than one billion drink containers have been returned one year on from Return and Earn, leading to a record reduction in litter volume across NSW.

NSW Environment Minister Gabrielle Upton said Return and Earn has been an outstanding success and changed the way people dispose of empty drink containers.

“Before Return and Earn, many drink bottles and cans became litter and only a third were being recycled through yellow lidded bins.

“Now the trend is reversed: far more are recycled than are littered and the state is a cleaner place,” Ms Upton said.

The figures for Return and Earn’s are as follows:

  • Eligible drink containers collected and recycled: up by 69 per cent
  • Eligible drink container litter volume: down 44 per cent
  • NSW total litter volume: down 48 per cent since 2013
  • Drink containers being processed each week: 26 million
  • Most drink containers processed in a day: 5.6 million on Sunday, November 11

“More than half the drink containers in the marketplace (54 per cent) are now being recovered, compared with the 32 per cent that was being collected in yellow bins before Return and Earn kicked in.

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“When combined with the 710 million drink containers collected in yellow bins between December 2017 and September, we now know there has been a massive 69 per cent increase in the number of drink containers recovered compared with yellow bin collections over a similar period last year,” Ms Upton said.

“While litter volume has pleasingly dropped across all litter categories, the largest reduction is from eligible drink containers which now represent an all-time low of 37 per cent of the NSW litter volume stream,” Ms Upton said.

Ms Upton said the Premier’s target of a reducing litter in NSW by 40 per cent cut by 2020 was on track to be met and potentially exceeded.

“This shows the impact and undeniable success of Return and Earn on reducing litter across the state.

“There are 20 Return and Earn collection points across the state that have collected more than six million drink containers, with the record going to Granville with 9.8 million.

“Casula (8.8m), Queanbeyan and Marrickville (8.7m), Carnes Hill and Emerton (8.5m), Marsfield (8.3m), Wagga Wagga (7.9m), Revesby (7.8m) and Dubbo (7.08m) fill out the top 10,” Ms Upton said.

Network Operator TOMRA Cleanaway CEO James Dorney said the scheme is a great success.

“The scheme has exceeded our expectations and has delivered positive outcomes for our environment, multiple charity organisations, donation partners and the community overall.”

Ms Upton said Return and Earn is incredibly popular: almost every second person (45 per cent) has used it so far and 90 per cent say they would use it again.

“In addition, almost 300 community, school, charity and sporting groups have benefited from Return and Earn by featuring on reverse vending machines across the state as donation partners, and many more have fundraised by collecting drink container donations from their communities.

“Return and Earn has been a success because people in NSW have taken it on and are helping to keep our environment litter free.” 

* NSW receives quarterly National Litter Index litter counts from Keep Australia Beautiful (in August, November, February and May). Only the November and May counts go towards the annualised, publicly released Index figure. The additional counts are commissioned by the NSW Government to inform NSW litter reduction policies and programs.

Cleanaway unveils new optical container sorting facility

Cleanaway has officially opened its new automated optical Container Sorting Facility at Eastern Creek, NSW.

The facility initially opened on 1 December 2017 and included a manual sorting line, which used magnetic sorting and manual picking to separate steel, aluminium, cartons and plastics with a capacity of 1.5 tonnes per hour.

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With construction of the new automated sorting line completed, the facility now has a capacity of eight tonnes per hour.

Optical sorters used in the plant identify containers based on their material type at thousands of reads per minute with air jets being used to separate them for compaction and baling.

These baled materials are then distributed domestically and internationally to be recycled back into food grade containers.

Since beginning operation last year, the facility has processed most of the 900 million containers collected by the NSW Return and Earn scheme.

The NSW Government’s scheme aims to reduce the volume of litter across the state by providing a 10-cent refund for each eligible container returned.

Cleanaway CEO and Managing Director Vik Bansal said schemes such as Return and Earn require the community to pre-sort containers for recycling, reducing the level of contamination at the source.

“With the new sorting technology installed at this facility, we are now able to improve the quality of the commodity streams even further,” Mr Bansal said.

“The Eastern Creek Container Sorting Facility is a critical part of our Footprint 2025. We’re committed to putting the infrastructure and facilities in place to deal sustainably with Australia’s waste, well into the future.”

Mr Bansal says the challenges facing the waste industry over the past 12 months have changed the way Australians view waste.

“It is more important than ever before that we work together to address these challenges. Return and Earn is a great example of that,” he said.

“It has been encouraging to see so many people getting involved and increasing the amount of recyclables being sorted at the source.

Coupled with a better network of facilities to sort the containers collected, we can produce commodity streams which are in demand, meaning more items are being recycled into new products,” Mr Bansal said.

NSW Environment Minister Gabrielle Upton said the Return and Earn had been a great success, reducing litter across NSW by a third.

“I commend the people of NSW and congratulate Cleanaway on their state of the art facility that supports Return and Earn to provide a smart solution to reduce litter in NSW and contribute to a more sustainable future,” Ms Upton said.

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NSW litter reduced by a third with help from Return and Earn

Litter in New South Wales has dropped by 37 per cent since 2013, with drink container litter being reduced by a third since the introduction of the Return and Earn scheme, according to new figures.

A report released from Keep Australia Beautiful has also found takeaway container litter has been reduced by 19 per cent from 2016 to 2017.

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Print and advertising litter has also been reduced by 35 percent from 2016 to 2017.

NSW Environment Minister Gabrielle Upton said Return and Earn’s impact can been seen by looking at the scheme coordinator’s figures for the three months from March to May 2018, which show it collected 67 per cent of all eligible containers supplied into NSW in that period.

“This shows the immediate positive impact the container deposit scheme is having on reducing drink container litter, which is the largest proportion of all litter volume in NSW,” Ms Upton said.

“Overall, there has been a 33 per cent drop in Return and Earn eligible drink containers in the litter stream since November 2017 – the month before the scheme was introduced on 1 December.

“On average three million containers a day are being collected at return points. More than 560 million containers have been processed by Return and Earn so far and as more collection points are rolled out, these results can only increase and the amount of litter will decrease,” she said.

Ms Upton said the NSW Government’s commitment of $30 million to 2021 to reduce litter and littering behaviour through the Waste Less recycle More initiative is having the right effect.

“Such a huge drop shows the NSW Government’s range of anti-litter initiatives are working,” she said.

“I encourage the NSW community to continue returning their eligible drink containers and in their other efforts to reduce litter in our communities.”

Return and Earn sees half a billion containers returned

More than half a billion containers have been returned to Return and Earn reverse vending machines in NSW, eight months after the scheme launched.

The container deposit scheme aims to improve recycling rates and reduce the volume of litter in the state by 40 per cent by 2020.

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Each eligible container is worth 10 cents when returned to a reverse vending machine or depot.

Drink containers litter currently makes up 44 per cent of the volume of all litter throughout NSW and costs more than $162 million to manage, according to the NSW Environment Protection Authority.

The University of New South Wales (UNSW) was the first educational institution to install a reverse vending machine as part of the scheme.

UNSW Senior Manager, Environmental Sustainability Will Syddall said that while this initiative helps to reduce littering and improve recycling rates, it is just one step in improving the way we create and manage waste.

“In the waste hierarchy, reducing and reusing resources is better than recycling them. We encourage the community to use reusable water bottles and coffee cups so that they can avoid disposable cups and bottles altogether,” Mr Syddall said.

“We also recognise that we have more work to do to reduce the amount of single-use plastic and other consumables used on our campuses.”

According to the World Bank, half of the plastic ever manufactured was made in the last 15 years.

Return and Earn donates to Tathra Bushfire recovery

Return and Earn has donated more than $10,000 to the people of Tathra, a town in NSW’s South Coast, to help with their bushfire recovery.

After bushfires tore through the town in March this year, devastating the community and causing millions of dollars of damage, EPA NSW worked with Environment Minister Gabrielle Upton and TOMRA Cleanaway to champion the campaign to make the Tathra Bushfire Appeal the nominated charity for Return and Earn.

The people of NSW rallied behind the cause, donating $8400 worth of their 10 cent refunds through the reverse vending machines across the state. An extra $2000 was then donated by the Return and Earn network operator Tomra Cleanaway at the Tathra Bushfire Relief concert on Saturday.

Since the bushfire, EPA NSW has continued to manage much of the clean-up work as Chair of the Government’s Infrastructure, Waste and Environmental Recovery Sub-Committee, overseeing the waste management, clean up and environmental rehabilitation work.

Positive results for NT container deposit scheme

More than 75 per cent of Northern Territory residents have said they believe the container deposit scheme (CDS) has been a success, according to a recent survey.

The survey also showed 81 per cent of territorians participate in the CDS because they are environmentally conscious.

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NT’s CDS began in January 2012 and provides a 10 cent refund on beverage containers returned through collection depots.

Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Acting Director Leonie Cooper said the survey component of the review into the CDS received 714 responses, including 646 from community organisations and members of the public.

“The CDS has delivered many benefits to the Territory community, such as financial boosts to schools and community groups, as well as increased recycling rates and reduced litter in our environment,” Ms Cooper said.

“More than 90 million containers were collected by collection depots last financial year (2016-17) from territorians, the most collected in any 12 month period since the scheme began.

“Collection depots paid out more than $9 million to territorians during this time and this further demonstrates that territorians continue to support the CDS,” she said.

In addition, the survey also collected 68 responses from non-governmental organisations, government employees and the industry, including CDS coordinators, depot operators and supply approval holders.

“Participating in the survey gave territorians an opportunity to contribute to improvements in consumer experience with CDS, and the environmental and community benefits that could come from improving access and operations of the CDS,” Ms Cooper said.

“I thank everyone who participated in the survey and provided valuable suggestions on how the CDS can be improved. These suggestions are currently being considered by the independent CDS review team, with the final review report due for release in August,” she said.

Ms Cooper said CDS infrastructure grants have provided businesses and organisations with one-off funding to improve public access across the NT.