Wagga cashes in on Return and Earn recycling on New Year's Day

KA-CHING: Wagga's Emma Livingstone, 9, delivers used bottles and cans to the North Wagga Return and Earn recycling depot to make herself some tidy pocket money. Picture: Kieren  L Tilly
KA-CHING: Wagga's Emma Livingstone, 9, delivers used bottles and cans to the North Wagga Return and Earn recycling depot to make herself some tidy pocket money. Picture: Kieren L Tilly

While cleaning up the previous night’s mess is usually the last thing anyone wants to do on New Year’s Day, there was a new incentive this year that pushed recycling to the top of Wagga’s to-do-list for 2018.

Together, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day saw a grand total of 86,106 drink containers recycled at the Return and Earn depots on Gurwood Street and Lake Albert Road – some of the highest figures recorded in the state. 

This marked a massive spike in returns, making up 15 per cent of the total containers deposited in Wagga so far.

While much scepticism surrounded its launch, Wagga residents have managed to return an impressive 610,225 drink containers since the NSW Container Deposit Scheme arrived one month ago.

That means Wagga residents have already pocketed more than $61,000 from handing in their used cans and bottles.

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Across NSW, 18 million containers have been returned since the state-wide launch on December 1, and NSW environment protection authority Chief Environmental Regulator Mark Gifford said return rates will only increase.

“The uptake of the scheme is growing as more collection points are rolled out and more containers are returned,” Mr Gifford said.

“Not only are people collecting the 10 cent deposit and the amount of money being donated to charities through reverse vending machines is growing, but cans and bottles continue to be removed from the NSW litter stream.”

It seems Wagga’s youngest residents are among the most frequent visitors to the container return points, offering parents a new way to teach their children about recycling.

Amanda Livingstone said the scheme has her 11-year-old daughter Emma motivated to save up her own money.

“Emma collects them at home, sorts them into crates, and then brings them down to make some pocket money,” she said.

“She's already made about $30 so far.”

GIVING BACK: Wagga's William Goldstraw, 11, decided to give half the money he earned from returning cans and bottles to the Guide Dogs. Picture: Kieren L Tilly

GIVING BACK: Wagga's William Goldstraw, 11, decided to give half the money he earned from returning cans and bottles to the Guide Dogs. Picture: Kieren L Tilly

Wagga boy William Goldstraw, 11, also spent December collecting cans all over the city.

While a bit of extra pocket money was nice, William said he also wanted to use the money he earned from recycling to help others.

“I was collecting cans for money, and I donated half of it to the Guide Dogs, because I just thought it was a kind thing to do,” he said. 

William managed to collect 2300 cans, leaving him with $115 to donate to a very worthy cause.

With this weekend’s 40-degree heat sure to bring plenty of cool drinks with it, it looks like more and more people will start cashing in. 

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