Return and Earn popular as UNSW returns 5 million containers

Note: Due to several serious security incidents occurring with the use of the Return and Earn machine near the entrance of the Old Main Building at Kensington Campus, UNSW Estate Management decided to remove the machine from campus on 31 July 2022. 


Return and Earn celebrated the return of 2 billion containers across NSW with UNSW contributing 5 million to that figure. To thank the UNSW community for their contribution, Return and Earn visited UNSW on 23 July.


UNSW students and staff took part in a return-a-thon where they competed to see who could return the most cans and bottles the fastest in 30 seconds.

Free Return & Earn carry bags, coffees and goodies galvanised the community and highlighted the positive impact the Return & Earn vending machine has had on campus.

Recycling water bottles

UNSW Sydney was the first university in NSW to install a reverse vending machine in 2018 following the introduction of the NSW Government’s Container Deposit Scheme in December 2017, with the aim of reducing drink container litter by 40% by 2020.

The scheme taken up by UNSW Sustainability has been so successful that drink container litter volume has reduced by 57% across the state.

The installation of the reverse vending machine on campus is part of a University-wide commitment to sustainability.

UNSW Head of Sustainability, William Syddall, said that the Return and Earn was a great initiative because it helps people realise plastic containers can be recycled rather than going to landfill.

“The reverse vending machine is a perfect way to collect clean streams of high-quality recycled materials,” Mr Syddall said.

This year UNSW launched an ambitious Environmental Sustainability Plan 2019-21 (ESP). The plan is designed to address the University’s key environmental issues and defines commitments, targets and activities across ten focus areas including climate action, waste and recycling, and energy and water efficiency.

The popular reverse vending machine is located near the Old Main Building entrance (K15) next to the Physics Lawn.