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NSW government to reduce litter by 40% by 2020

The NSW government’s container recycling scheme Return and Earn has been designed to reduce the volume of litter discarded in NSW.

Although the majority of people agree that littering is unacceptable, some still continue to do so. The NSW Environment Protection Authority released its first litter prevention strategy last year that outlines the ways in which the government plans to tackle this issue.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has made it a priority to reduce the volume of litter in NSW by 40 per cent by 2020. According to the National Litter Index, drink containers make up 44 per cent of all NSW litter.

One approach is to reward responsible behaviour through the Return and Earn system. Encouraging people to save eligible containers they have used, or collecting those that have been littered, in exchange for a financial reward promotes recycling and reducing littering behaviours.

The government is confident that this system will be effective after examining South Australia and the Northern Territory, as well as other countries where similar schemes operate, because significantly fewer containers are littered in these areas.

The Return and Earn scheme has been in place since December 2017, and there are many collection points in the Illawarra for the public to return their containers to.

There are three different types of collection point in the Illawarra: reverse vending machines, automated depots, and over the counter sites.

Reverse vending machines are self-service machines that automatically scan your containers, offer a variety of refund choices, and accept up to 500 containers in one transaction.

Automated depots are the most convenient way to return more than 500 containers, and are run in a staffed bulk container return centre.

The final option is over the counter sites, where customers can return smaller quantities of containers over the count in participating local businesses.

The reward is 10-cent refund for each eligible can or bottle. More information on what containers are eligible can be found on the Return and Earn website.

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