Return & Earn: How-to

Mummy Confession: This new scheme of return and earn seems to have a few people wondering how it works exactly. So I just figured I would write something to help explain a little about how to manage with the new return & earn program started up in NSW recently.

Coming from the US, can  & bottle deposits are familiar to me, so when this new scheme came up, I was fairly familiar with how it would run. It’s pretty easy to understand, so I figured I would try to help anyone keen to know how it worked. I don’t claim to know everything about this, but just how to redeem your cans and bottles and glass containers (which are eligible) for cash, money off your shop, PayPal deposit, or donating to a cause. I’ve tried to make it simple and straightforward. (For other ways you can get a little cash back or save money, check out my post here.)

Looking for how to return or recycle more than just cans and bottles? Check out my post here with a list of things you can recycle and return that you may not have known about!

1. See which cans, bottles, and containers are eligible. You can check the requirements and exclusions here:

2. Collect your containers: Storing them uncrushed so they are able to be redeemed. A rubbish bag or bucket work great. Best if it’s something that is leak-proof in case any liquids are still left in any of the cans or containers.

3. Find your local return & earn collection point (Click here for the website )

4. Bring your eligible cans, bottles, and containers to the collection point.

5.  See how they explain how to return your eligible containers here:

My local points are mostly Reverse vending machine style, so I figured I would write how to utilise these machines below with a couple photos. 🙂

Some Handy Tips before you go to return your containers:

  1. Bring wipes. Yes, baby wipes or some sort of wet wipes. If you have soda cans or other things that are open, it can get sticky, no matter how much you’ve washed out the containers! (an alternative would be gloves so your hands don’t get sticky).
  2. Be sure your containers are in something that is leak-proof! You don’t need a mess all over the car seat or wherever you’ve placed everything!
  3. Store them in an out of the way place until you can get to return them, but not somewhere ants and other insects would be able to start a party.
  4. Do the can return before shopping, so you just have to go in once (should you shop at Woolworths).
  5. Be sure to have your Paypal already sorted with the myTOMRA app should you wish to redeem your refund via Paypal. (If you don’t want to refund this way, don’t worry about downloading the app)
  6. Sometimes getting a shopping trolley can help if you have many containers to return.
  7. Don’t go too slowly, as I’ve found out. If you take too long to put the next article in (I was fumbling around with a closed bag), the vending machine will automatically spit out a voucher for the amount you have returned already.
  8. Be careful of little fingers. The machines are well off the ground, so you shouldn’t have problems with the littles getting too close. But, while it’s fun to let the littles help, it may be best to ask them to just help you by handing you the cans, counting the containers, or being in charge of the docket for the refund.
  9. And just a request, not really a tip, but use the bins provided to sort out the rest of your rubbish that doesn’t go into the machines. I’m astonished at how people throw bottle caps all over the ground when there is a bin right next to them.
return and earn, reverse vending machine
Reverse vending machine for cartons, plastic and cans. The instructions are printed on each machine


How to Use the Reverse Vending Machine style deposit

(Note: You do not need to download the app if you don’t want to get a PayPal or Apple Pay deposit. In other words, if you just want a docket for getting cash back, money off your Woolworths shop, or to donate money, you don’t need to get the my TOMRA app)

PayPal Redemption

If you want to redeem the money and put it into PayPal, you will need to download the app myTOMRA

1. Scan your code from the myTOMRA app (found by clicking the blue link there) before starting your return (be sure your PayPal is already set up before this). (For how to use and set up this app, visit ).

2. Place your cans, bottles, or containers in the relevant reverse vending machine so the conveyer takes the can and scans and transports your return. Don’t push them in too quickly, or it may not register your return.

3. Continue until you are finished.

4. Once finished returning cans, bottles, etc, select the “PayPal” option on the machine. (I would also screenshot the receipt so you have proof should the transaction not go through, as you get no receipt). And for Paypal, you are DONE. So easy!

return and earn, reverse vending machine
This is the glass reverse vending machine

, Woolworths voucher, or donation Redemption-

You can either get cash for your return (by bringing the printed voucher to the Woolworths service desk), use the voucher as a coupon to take money off of your shop at Woolworths, or select a charity to donate your return money to at the end of your redemption session.

1. Place your cans, bottles, etc in the relevant reverse vending machine so the conveyer takes the can, bottle, etc and scans and transports your return. Don’t push them in too quickly, or it may not register your return.

2. Continue until you are finished returning your containers.

3. Once finished, select “voucher” or “donate“. The “voucher” option will print out a voucher that you can choose to use one of two ways:
1. take it to the service desk and cash it out for coins and notes.
2. Do your shopping at Woolworths and hand it to your cashier to use to take money off of your shop.
The “donate” option lets you choose a charity to put the funds from your returns towards,

If you have any questions, be sure to ask staff in the Woolworths or return area, or check out Return & Earn’s website, or the myTOMRA website.

Take your docket to your local Woolworths customer service desk for a cash refund, or to use on your shop for money off!


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