Setting up to collect containers used at your event/ market and redeeming them under the NSW Container Deposit Scheme (Return & Earn) is well worth the time.


Events can collect containers left by patrons  - simply consider them a donation to you. Claim the refund and use it to support further plastic free measures or environmental initiatives at the event, or arrange for the refund to be donated (either wholly or partly) to one or several charities, community groups or schools. We would love it if you consider Make the Switch as one of those beneficiaries. Supporting us helps us support you and continue to strengthen the plastic free community! 


Here we will run through what you need to know and how to do it.

1  learn how Return & Earn works

Under Return & Earn, people are able to return eligible containers to a return point in NSW and and obtain a 10 cent refund per container. A series of return points have been established across the state. To learn more about how it works, head to the Return and Earn website.

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2  decide where you want the refunds to go

Think about whether you would like to keep all of the refunds, whether you would like to donate it all to a charity, or whether you would like to split it multiple ways. If you are donating to charity, you could get the charity to help you set the collection point up, come on the day to act as ''Waste Warriors' to ensure people put their containers in collection bins (and bonus, they can also help with your composting stream as well if you have one), and take the containers to the return point. Alternatively you could use the refunds to help pay for your waste costs or to help hire a waste manager or contractor. 

3  set up your collection point

Your next step is to consider how you are going to collect the containers and what your arrangement will be to get your collection to a return point. For bulk returns (100+ containers) you will need to take your containers to an Automated Depot. The depot at Lismore City Council is the nearest one to Byron. Note that this return point is only open open on Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday until 4pm, so if your event falls outside of this you will need to store your containers. Find your nearest automated depot here.

Here are the steps:

Set up your collection bin/cage

Depending on the size of your collection and the size/ frequency of your event, it may be in the form of wheelie bins, an enclosed trailer or a purpose-built mobile cage, or a combination of these. You may be able to borrow something from a local community group. Consider where you will place bins, with access, safety and security in mind. Be aware that a cage in an unsecured location may attract stealing if left overnight so arrange for it to be stored securely. 

You will also need signage for your bin/cage to make sure people know you are collecting containers. You can download a community toolkit from Return and Earn with signage options. 

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Establish your system for collecting containers

If you are using 'Waste Warriors' (people to stand at bin stations to help people make good decisions), ensure they are organised and briefed. Consider how you will promote your collection on the day. If you have an MC you could arrange for them to let people know to donate. Also consider promoting your collection before the day do prepare patrons. Make sure you monitor your bin/cage on the day to ensure your collection isn't being contaminated or becoming too full.  

Arrange for your containers to be taken to the depot

You might want to take them in the container they were collected or move them into a more suitable delivery receptacle. 

Any questions? Find out the answers by heading to Return & Earn's FAQ's.