Return and Earn

The NSW Government is delivering the largest litter reduction scheme ever introduced in NSW

Return and Earn 

Return and Earn has started and will help to reduce the 160 million drink containers littered in our environment each year. Drink containers make up almost half of the volume of litter in NSW.

Return and Earn is part of the NSW Government’s commitment to reducing litter volume in NSW by 40 per cent by 2020.

Key features of Return and Earn are:

  • when the scheme is fully rolled out, there will be more than 500 collection points across the state, including in remote towns of more than 500 people and at 270 sites across the Greater Sydney Region
  • the 10-cent refund at reverse vending machines will be provided as a voucher for in store redemption, electronic transfer, cash or may be donated to a community group.
  • eligible containers include most glass, cans, plastic and paperboard drink containers between 150 millilitres and three litres – those most often found in the litter stream.

How will this benefit my community?

The main beneficiaries of the scheme will be the environment and the community.

Over the next 20 years, the Scheme is expected to 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.

What containers can be refunded?

Most empty 150-millilitre to three litre beverage containers will be eligible for a 10 cent refund when presented to an approved NSW collection point. However, not all container are included in the scheme. See below list for containers that are accepted and those that are not.

Container materials that may be eligible for a refund include:

Included containers 
  • PET
  • HDPE
  • glass
  • aluminium
  • steel
  • liquid paperboard
Eligible containers

Containers that are not included in the scheme and, therefore, do not qualify for a refund are:

Containers not included 
  • plain milk (or milk substitute) containers 
  • flavoured milk containers of one litre or more
  • pure fruit or vegetable juice containers of one litre or more
    glass containers for wine and spirits 
  • casks (plastic bladders in boxes) for wine and casks for water 
  • containers for cordials, and concentrated fruit/vegetable juices
  • registered health tonics
Containers not included 

These drinks are predominantly consumed at home and are not found in the litter stream. They are also broadly similar to the exceptions in the South Australian and Northern Territory container deposit schemes, to aid consistency.

How do I participate?

Consumers can exchange an eligible container at an approved collection point to receive a 10 cent refund per container. Containers should be empty, uncrushed, unbroken and with the original label attached.

To find drop-off locations and for more information about the service, visit

Should I continue to use my yellow-lid recycling bin?

Yes, please continue to use your home recycling bin for all recyclables, including those eligible for a refund, if you are unable to take them directly to a drop-off point.

Last Updated: 24 October 2022
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