What containers are accepted by the Container Deposit Scheme

The containers that can (top) and can't (below) be returned for a refund.

The containers that can (top) and can't (below) be returned for a refund.

The NSW government’s new container deposit scheme – dubbed Return and Earn – starts on Friday.

The scheme, designed to reduce litter, offers a 10-cent refund for every eligible can and bottle handed in via reverse vending machines or at over-the-counter collection points across the state.

For those of you who’ve been storing your aluminium cans, plastic containers and glass bottles – here’s everything you need to know about the scheme. 

Which containers can be returned for a refund?

Most 150ml to three litre drink containers will be eligible for a 10 cent refund at an approved NSW collection point.

Container materials that may be eligible for a refund include:

  • Glass
  • Plastic
  • Aluminium
  • Steel
  • Liquid paperboard (cartons)

Containers should be empty, uncrushed, unbroken and have the original label intact.

The eligibility of beverage containers generally aligns with containers that are eligible under the SA or NT schemes. Many will therefore have the SA or NT scheme refund marking if they are currently sold in those markets.

Wine, spirits, cordial and plain milk containers are generally not eligible.

If a container isn't eligible for a refund, use a recycling bin.

Which containers aren't eligible for a refund?

Containers that can’t be deposited for a refund include:

  • 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 or water of one litre or more
  • Sachets for wine of 250ml or more
  • Containers for cordials and concentrated fruit/vegetable juices
  • Registered health tonics


Why are some containers not eligible for a refund?

Return and Earn has been introduced to reduce drink container litter across NSW. Wine bottles and spirits in glass containers are predominantly consumed at home and are not regularly found in the litter stream.

Where can I return my containers?

There will be more than 500 Return and Earn collection points across NSW.

At the moment there are collection points in Tamworth, Gunnedah, Glen Innes, Inverell, Bingara, Armidale, Guyra, Walcha, Manilla, Quirindi and Moree.

Are there different types of collection points?

Yes, there will be three types of collection points: reverse vending machines (RVMs), over-the-counter collection points and automated depots.

You can get your refund in cash at over-the-counter collection points and automated depots.

Vouchers are available at reverse vending machines which can be exchanged for cash at a retail partner.

What is a reverse vending machine?

A reverse vending machine is a machine where you can return empty eligible containers like bottles and cans for recycling. 

A reverse vending machine on the Stewart Street side of Woolworths Wollongong. Picture: Adam McLean

A reverse vending machine on the Stewart Street side of Woolworths Wollongong. Picture: Adam McLean

How do I use a reverse vending machine?

When you insert your empty containers into the chute at the front of the machine, it will scan your container to ensure it is eligible for a refund.

When you’ve finished depositing the containers, choose your preferred refund option on the electronic screen.

How do I get my refund?

When you return containers at a reverse vending machine, you can obtain a refund in three ways:

  1. Receive a voucher to be redeemed for cash or an in-store credit at a participating retail partner (such as a Woolworths).
  2. Register to receive a direct payment to your designated bank account via PayPal.
  3. Donate the refund to charities and community groups linked to the reverse vending machines.

The reverse vending machines do not hold cash.

What do I need to do to be set up to receive a digital refund?

Download the myTOMRA App from Google Play or iTunes App Stores and create a TOMRA profile.

The app comes with a personal membership card that you scan on the machine to get the refunds digitally into your TOMRA profile. Open the app and follow the prompts to link your PayPal account to the app before you redeem any eligible containers.

Once you’ve linked your PayPal account, scan your unique barcode in the myTOMRA app at the RVM to log in. Place all your containers in the RVM one at a time, then select PayPal on screen. Your refund will be transferred to your PayPal account in moments.

If I choose to donate my refund, how do I select who it goes to?

Reverse vending machines will provide the option to donate your refund to charities or community organisations.

You can select from a list of charities on the machine’s screen.

Participating charities and community organisations are being selected, and more information will be available soon.

How is Return and Earn different from my council kerbside collection?

Eligible containers can continue to be placed in the kerbside system as Return and Earn will complement kerbside recycling.

Kerbside recycling is geared toward containers you consume at home, some of which aren’t eligible for a refund under Return and Earn.

If you put eligible containers in kerbside recycling, the refunds may go towards improved waste services in your area.

What happens to my container after I return it?

Containers are collected and processed through a sorting centre in western Sydney, then sold into both domestic and export markets for recycling.

This story What can you return and earn with? first appeared on The Northern Daily Leader.