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How small and local charities can benefit from the Return and Earn scheme

Third Sector has spoken to Tomra about the benefits of the Return and Earn scheme for small and local charities

The NSW container deposit scheme, Return and Earn, received mixed levels of enthusiasm following its launch in December last year.

Critics argued it was poorly thought out with not enough reverse vending machines rolled out and that the machines were too prone to breaking down.

Many also argued that the scheme it brought an unfair cost for consumers with the average case of beer or carton of soft drinks increasing by $4.

Approximately 50 million containers a month have been returned since the launch and between March and May 2018 67 per cent of all eligible containers have been returned.  The program is set to be rolled out in the ACT and Queensland shortly.

Whilst the scheme has made headlines of people raiding kerbside recycling bins and earning thousands of dollars a week collecting other people’s container, there is another side to the story.

Tomra, the operator of the reverse vending machines which dispense the refunds, provides multiple options for how the 10c deposit can be claimed, including the choice of four different charities for the money to be donated to. Three of the four charities are usually well-known or state-wide organisations or campaigns, with the fourth charity listed being a local campaign or organisation.

Only 18 local organisations received the fourth spot during Return and Earn’s first quarter. Now there are over 100 and the number is growing.

Claire Mawdsley, Charity Partnership Manager at Tomra, told Third Sector that despite the increase in the number of local organisations applying to be part of the scheme, the wait for listing isn’t long and there is assistance available for social media campaigns to ensure maximum engagement with the scheme.

The scheme is proving to provide an opportunity for small organisations or those in geographically specific areas to spread awareness and raise funds. It has recently seen a local sports club raise funds for new uniforms, local schools have received donations and Girl Guides groups have raised funds for excursions.

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