We are now five months into New South Wales’ new recycling program, which went live in December last year; what have we learnt?

Last December NSW launched their ‘return and earn’ container deposit scheme.  Residents can take their used drink bottles and cans to a ‘reverse vending machine’ and receive 10c back for each container.  It sounds like a great idea, but how well is the scheme actually working?

So far it’s had its ups and downs. NSW’s premiere acknowledges that the scheme needs improvement. Higher prices for bottles at retailers are driving some customers across the border for their shopping, but the biggest difficulty is in the number of collection points.  The number of collection points just isn’t cutting it for many residents, with some being too far away to justify the trip.

There is good news though. The scheme aims to reduce the state’s litter by 40% by 2020, and it has made steps in that direction. In its five months since going live, the scheme has collected almost 250 million containers, with high yielding days sometime bringing in 2 million containers. The success of similar schemes in places like Germany is also encouraging. While it has kinks that need ironing out, it is a system with potential. It is another stepping stone toward a greener Australia.

Image: ABC News