It was a start-up that almost immediately went belly-up under the weight of criticism from the public and retailers.
The Return and Earn project engineered by the State Government offered cash payments for helping clear the mountains of metal, glass and plastic beverage containers littering NSW streets and waterways.
Re-cyclers were paid 10 cents for every container they returned to designated collection points around the State.
The initial social reaction was vigorously opposed to the idea, saying consumers already had adequate means of recycling through their council supplied bins.
Retailers cited a likely drop in sales because the 10-cent return on used containers was incorporated into the sales price, boosting the cost of a 36-pack carton of Coke and other beverages by $3.60.
Although the $3.60 could be recouped at a Return and Earn machine many consumers could not find the time to participate in the scheme.
There were also complaints about the debris around the specific return machines as frustrated recyclers found queues to long and walked away, leaving their containers behind along with other rubbish and non-compliant containers.
The Minister for Environment Matt Kean now says communities across the State have embraced Return and Earn as a vital recycling program that is helpful to the environment.
“Return and Earn has been a phenomenal success and has fundamentally changed people’s behaviour and thinking about litter,” he said.
“The people of NSW have helped us achieve a 57 per cent reduction in eligible drink container little since Return and Earn started in December 2017.”
“It’s good news for community groups as well. More than 350 groups, which featured as donation partners on reverse vending machines have raised more than $440,000 in donations.”
Minister Kean said consumers were returning an average of four million containers a day under the Return and Earn scheme. Return and Earn’s success is another reminder to start-ups to have the courage to stay the course.