News / City Life

Did you know your recyclables can earn you cold hard cash?

Group of people use a reverse vending machine - Manly
Photograph: Supplied

Have you ever reached the end of recycling week and had to do the awkward night-time run where you ashamedly slip your extra beer bottles into your neighbour’s yellow bin? Well, those days may be over, because the City of Sydney has rolled out a scheme to encourage Sydneysiders to donate their excess drink containers for a profit.

The Return and Earn system offers recyclers a ten-cent refund for every bottle you bring to deposit locations around the city. You get the choice to redeem your earnings in the form of a shopping voucher at participating stores like Woolworths, as a cash or electronic transfer, or to donate the money to charities such as Oz Havest and McGrath Foundation.

Where can you take your bottles? There’s four types of return points. You can take smaller quantities to over the counter deposits at participating news agencies or corner shops, and bring larger bundles to dedicated collection depots, where you’ll receive cash and sometimes electronic transfers.

Then there’s the donation stations where you do a DIY deposit and pass on all your earnings to charity. But the most versatile option is the reverse vending machines (RVM), where you can choose from donating your earnings, receiving the dollar amount or getting a shopping voucher.

When Time Out visited a donation station, we learned it’s a simple process, but not all types of deposit facilities accept every kind of eligible material – we had to take our glass bottle home from the Central Station donation machine. So it’s worth checking the rules before you rock up with a wheelbarrow of bottles. It’s also pretty hard to find the more versatile RVMs in a CBD location, so you’ll want to head to the ’burbs if you’re looking to make a buck.

What can you deposit? Any recyclable bottle between 150mL and 3L that is made of glass, aluminium, steel, liquid paperboard, and PET or HDPE plastics. So that’s your beer bottles, cans, juice cartons and water bottles.

What’s off limits? Steer clear of things you’re likely to drink at home, as these can still find a happy resting place in your yellow bin. Think milk bottles, juice and cordial containers over 1L, wine or spirit bottles, anything that has contained liquid medicine, or the plastic bladders from cask wine or drinking water.

While the dollar payoff is a sweet bonus, this is all in an effort to clean up the city. It’s part of the NSW Government’s commitment to reducing litter by 40 per cent by 2020. Over the course of 20 years, they’re expecting to see 11 billion fewer drink containers in landfill.

Want to do good in the city? Share your time, skills and love at these volunteer centres in Sydney.

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