Would a beverage container return system work in Singapore? Here’s how New South Wales is doing it

“It took me two months to collect all of this, and I think I can make around 50 Australian dollars (49 Singapore dollars) today, so I’m happy!” he said.

Under the Return and Earn scheme, consumers receive a 10 cent refund when they deposit their containers of eligible drinks at return points across NSW such as reverse vending machines, automated and counter deposits.

The program is funded by beverage suppliers who are required by law to register their containers and contribute financially to cover reimbursements and program operating costs.

“If (businesses) supply any of the containers included in the program, they must pay for it and report their supply volumes each month,” said Danielle Smalley, CEO of Exchange for Change.

Exchange for Change is the program coordinator responsible for managing the finances of the program, collecting funds from beverage suppliers and distributing the money to the network operator and other program participants.

“We determine what we think will be supplied and what the costs will be, and then we charge it per container,” Ms Smalley said, adding that the cost varies depending on the type of material in the container.

HOW IT WORKS

At the automated depot, separators sort the bottles into three streams: glass bottles, plastic bottles and aluminum cans, and non-eligible containers.

All containers between 150ml and 3L are accepted, except those used for wines and spirits, plain or flavored milk, more than 1L of pure fruit or vegetable juice, and concentrated juice or syrup.

Once the containers are inserted, the machine scans the containers, sorting them according to their weight. Glass bottles are separated from lightweight materials such as plastic bottles and aluminum cans.

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