Since opening in late January, deposits of eligible containers at the Vinnies bulk container deposit centre in South Nowra have steadily increased, and today saw the one millionth container processed through the automated counting and sorting machine.

The NSW Return and Earn container deposit scheme has made recycling easy, and the added incentive of cash refunds has seen households, businesses and community groups across the Shoalhaven embrace the initiative.

Many opt to skip the queues at reverse vending machines by heading to the St Vincent de Paul Society’s bulk deposit facility, which offers drive-up access and fast processing, without the need to pre-sort.

On her regular monthly visit to the Vinnies facility to deposit around 200 containers, Liz Parker of Bombaderry was greeted with a gift basket and balloons, a commemorative certificate and a reusable Vinnies coffee cup in celebration of her being the customer to deposit the one millionth container.

Vinnies Wollongong Central Council Executive Officer, Peter Quarmby, was excited about the milestone and said that the organisation’s involvement in the container deposit scheme expanded on the Vinnies ethos.

“We see our participation in the container deposit space as intrinsically linked to the Society’s ongoing commitment to recycling, and an extension of our retail store philosophy of reuse – helping to divert waste from landfill and supporting those in need at the same time,” he said.

“We already prevent several thousand tonnes of re-usable clothing, furniture, household goods and other materials from going to landfill every year; and through our over-the-counter container collection points at selected Vinnies shops, together with the rollout of two bulk container deposit centres – the South Nowra facility and a second facility at Unanderra – Vinnies has processed more than 3.7 million eligible containers to date.

“We’re now looking to expand our involvement through the operation of additional bulk deposit centres across the state, enhancing our contribution towards positive environmental outcomes while providing an additional revenue stream to allow Vinnies to fulfil its mission and continue to provide a helping hand to those experiencing disadvantage and homelessness in our communities,” he added.

The Vinnies Bulk Container Deposit Centre is located at Unit 11, 158 Princes Highway, South Nowra (opposite Bunnings) and is open from 8am to 2pm, Monday to Saturday. The facility offers on-the-spot refunds, and visitors can also choose to donate some or all of their refund to Vinnies to help support vital services, with tax deductible receipts issued for donations of more than $2.