Peak Hill’s Can Assist is a small team of volunteers that are well supported by the local Peak Hill community in western NSW.

Their main source of funding for cancer support activities comes from the NSW container deposit scheme, Return and Earn. Since the scheme commenced on 1 December 2017, the group has collected a whopping 420,000 containers, with funds raised donated directly to support local community members suffering from cancer.

Supporting cancer patients, one bottle and can at a time

A Peak Hill couple is playing a vital role in helping to keep a local charity running by the simple act of collecting empty bottles and cans. But it wouldn’t be possible without the support of the wider community.

Bill and Margaret Sanders volunteer with their local branch of Can Assist. In turn generous locals have donated a whopping 420,000 empty bottles and cans to the couple’s Peak Hill home over the past four years.

Bill and Margaret’s home acts as a collection point for containers eligible for a 10c refund with Return and Earn, which they kindly offered because of its central location.

Bill and Marg sort and bag the containers, and take them to a nearby return point, with an ‘over the counter’ return point available at the local Peak Hill Caravan Park, or an automated Return and Earn machine available at Parkes Metroplaza.

The funds generated through the bottle and can collections support rural cancer patients and their families in the Peak Hill area and surrounding in the Parkes Shire Council region. Regional locations that include Tomingley, Trewilga and Mungery are provided support by the group, with financial assistance given to community members, helping them with expenses such as regular travel to cities for treatment.

Peak Hill Can Assist is only a small team of volunteers, but they are well supported by the local Peak hill community. Their main source of funding for cancer support activities comes from the NSW container deposit scheme, Return and Earn.

Bill says when he began volunteering with the Peak Hill branch of Can Assist in 2014, the charity was already raising money by collecting and crushing cans as part of a different recycling program.

“The rebate for one kilogram of cans was only 60 cents, with approximately 80 crashed cans making up a kilo,” he said.

“And the work involved with crushing the cans took up significantly more time.

“So when the Return and Earn initiative started it was an easy decision for the branch to take our containers there.”

Volunteers from the Peak Hill Can Assist branch began to collect cans and bottles, and Bill and Marg said things grew from there.

“As word got out in the community that we were a drop-off location for containers for Can Assist, people throughout the town started to drop off their empty cans and bottles,” Bill said.

“Over the years countless individuals and businesses from the local community have donated their containers.”

Bill said the mix of recycling and helping locals have inspired people to get involved.

“The Return and Earn initiative has been a great opportunity for people to do something useful with their used cans and bottles, and at the same time be able to make much-needed funds for a wonderful local charity group,” he said.

Since Return and Earn commenced in 2017, more than $35 million dollars has been raised for community groups and not-for-profit organisations in donations and handling fees.

For more information about Return and Earn or to find your nearest return point, or to find out about becoming a donation partner visit

This article first appeared Parkes Champion Post.