Jethro, Reuben and father Vaughan Maiden depositing empty bottles into the 'Return and Earn' recycling station at the BP service station, Chinderah Bay Drive, Chinderah.
Jethro, Reuben and father Vaughan Maiden depositing empty bottles into the 'Return and Earn' recycling station at the BP service station, Chinderah Bay Drive, Chinderah. Tweed Daily News

$3 MILLION: That's how much we've earned in recycling scheme

RETURN and Earn is a year old and has collected nearly a billion drink containers, leading to a record reduction in litter volume across NSW and a massive environmental gain.

Northern Rivers has contributed to this success with more than 33 million containers returned in the area.

This includes:

  • Lismore - more than 8.3 million
  • Ballina - more than 5.9 million
  • Byron Bay - more than 1.6 million
  • Mullumbimby - more than 1.3 million
  • Casino - more than 7 million
  • Goonellabah - more than 2.4 million
  • Tenterfield - more than 1.5 million
  • Murwillumbah - more than 3.6 million
  • Evans Head - more than 1.6 million

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.

Return and Earn's first year figures:

  • 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.

"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.

"This means the Premier's target of a reducing litter in NSW by 40 per cent cut by 2020 is going to be well and truly met - and then some.

"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."

Network Operator TOMRA Cleanaway CEO James Dorney said the scheme has exceeded expectations "and has delivered positive outcomes for our environment, multiple charity organisations, donation partners and the community overall".

Ms Upton said 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.