2022 has provided TOMRA Cleanaway with many highlights, new milestones and organisational achievements upon which to reflect! We are exceptionally proud of a mid-year announcement from the NSW Minister for the Environment, James Griffin, that TOMRA Cleanaway was again awarded an extension as Network Operator for Return and Earn in NSW! This announcement culminated in 2022 with the collection of more than 8 billion containers since the NSW Scheme commenced in December 2017. This volume of clean, source-separated material has been the catalyst for domestic investment in the circular economy, an outcome of which TOMRA Cleanaway is exceptionally proud.

Success is always a shared activity, and nothing could have been achieved without the support, enthusiasm and involvement of our TOMRA Cleanaway Team. Our mid-year engagement results and end-of-year Team awards have again demonstrated the passion with which our Team operates to serve the community. Our purpose-driven pursuit to ‘drive value through recycling’ is underpinned by our organisational vision to ‘create a positive legacy in the jurisdictions we operate’ – 2022 demonstrated we had achieved this and more.

We cannot reflect on achievements without acknowledging the considerable support of our valued return point operators serving their communities throughout NSW. Because of our return point network of +600 locations across NSW, we have the levels of community engagement and citizen participation we do. Little in the NSW network would be achieved without our shareholders TOMRA and Cleanaway, our valued partners at Exchange for Change and the NSW EPA, who form the formal tripartite arrangement delivering Return and Earn.

New return points in geographies for the NSW network

Highlights of 2022 were many and punctuated with the expansion of the TOMRA Cleanaway network of return points across NSW, including introducing new format return points and the shopfront style ‘express’ return point locations. Expansion of the TOMRA Cleanaway network focused on providing access to the scheme in new geographies.

Bulk container return points and automated depots new to the network in 2022 included:

–       City Return and Earn Automated Depot 

–       Albury Return and Earn Automated Depot 

–       Corowa Return and Earn Automated Depot 

–       Hawkesbury Return and Earn Automated Depot 

–       Port Macquarie Automated Depot 

In addition to the manual, the ‘Over-the-Counter’ return point network continues to provide community access to the scheme in critical locations such as:

–       REDI.e Wilcannia 

–       Gundagai Mitre 10 

 Reverse Vending Centres and Return and Earn Express locations new to the network in 2022 included:

–       Lakemba Return and Earn Centre 

–       Top Ryde City Return and Earn Express 

–        Willoughby Return and Earn Express 

–       Roseville Return and Earn Express 

–       Orange Return and Earn Centre 

And just some of our other Return and Earn Machines across metro, and regional NSW included the below new locations:

–       Airds Newbrook Village Return and Earn Machine 

–       Casula Cross Roads Return and Earn Machine 

–       Roselands Vicinity Centre Return and Earn Machine 

–       Toormina Gardens Return and Earn Machine 

–       Stocklands Glendale Return and Earn Machine 

–       Katoomba Cinema Return and Earn Machine 

–       Myall Quays Tea Gardens Return and Earn Machine 

–       Gulgong Saleyards Lane Return and Earn Machine  

–       Cobargo Hotel Return and Earn Machine 

–       Portland Golf Return and Earn Machine  

–       Bernadi’s Marketplace Blayney Return and Earn Machine 

Charity donation through the Return and Earn App

Fundraising and charitable outcomes continued to be a highlight throughout 2022. Campaigns for Animal Welfare League and launch of the ‘Protect our Planet’  charity recycling appeal focussed on achieving multiple fundraising targets. The ‘Return and Earn App’ launch early in 2022 was another significant achievement for TOMRA Cleanaway. The app has fantastic capabilities to provide digital vouchers, direct deposit refunds, and donation capabilities. Hundreds of new donation partners can now create fundraising campaigns to obtain refund donations from supporters anywhere in NSW. Today there are over 150 different charity campaigns listed on the app. PCYC NSW leveraged the opportunity with more than 50 of their clubs registered as donation partners on the app!

Reconciliation Action Plan Delivered

As TOMRA Cleanaway matures through our services and continues to reflect internally on our business ethic, 2022 saw us forge our Reconciliation Working Group. This dedicated group worked with Reconciliation Australia to deliver TOMRA Cleanaway’s inaugural Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP). Our RAP has stimulated a swathe of activities across all areas of our service delivery and activities to demonstrate our support of Reconciliation outcomes. As a signal of our Reconciliation commitments and intentions, we are incredibly proud to have commissioned our reconciliation artwork in 2022. ‘Caring for Country Together’ was developed by Aboriginal Artist and Designer Rhonda Sampson and is now featured across all our digital channels, staff uniforms, and even a commemorative collection vehicle.

We are looking forward to further embedding our Reconciliation Action Plan and activities in 2023.

Site tours and speaking opportunities

2022 also saw the end of COVID restrictions, and the opportunities for face-to-face encounters increased. Ultimately, this resulted in TOMRA Cleanaway hosting more visitors and site tours at our Eastern Creek Central Sorting and Counting facility than ever before. Global visitors attended tours with gusto, and the primary driver was to understand the TOMRA Cleanaway network model and circular outcomes delivered for used beverage containers.

Of note were the large group from the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP‘PAC Waste Plus’ participants that visited TOMRA Cleanaway’s facility during their two-week-long Australian and New Zealand waste management tour. The group represented the 21 member countries investigating waste management and resource recovery practices in Australia and New Zealand.

Another international visit of note came via the delegation from the Singaporean Environment Protection Authority and Government, which included The Hon. Dr Amy Khor, Senior Minister of State for Sustainability and the Environment. The Singaporean delegation toured the TOMRA Cleanaway network and met with a variety of scheme stakeholders to understand the architecture of the NSW container deposit scheme. These groups of visitors were just a small sample of the many visitors TOMRA Cleanaway has hosted at Eastern Creek this year! We are consistently amazed at the volume of requests we receive to visit our facility; 5 years of our operation is as current and topical as ever.

Our conference presence and representation were similarly huge in 2022. Locally, the Waste 2022 Conference in Coffs Harbour provided speaking opportunities and the option to host a local network tour. Again, the enthusiasm and interest from delegates were unanticipated! Later in the year, Waste Expo Australia, AWAREEnviro 2022 all involved TOMRA Cleanaway representation. Global conferences and speaking opportunities were also on the cards as interest in our capabilities and service delivery was built. We were thrilled to have many opportunities over the year for such diverse activities.

Thanks finally to our Team, the NSW Community and our Partners

We recognise and celebrate all our people coming together to deliver exceptional outcomes for the scheme across NSW after five years of operation. The continued success of the network is driven by a diverse range of services and support from our return point partners, Cleanaway’s truck drivers, our Customer Service Officers, the yellow gear operators at the Eastern Creek central sorting facility, TOMRA’s technicians and cleaners servicing the network of reverse vending machines. These exceptional services ensure our 600+ return points are ready and available for convenient community access. With every individual combining forces and contributing excellence daily, TOMRA Cleanaway delivers a world-class container deposit scheme for NSW.

Our thanks also extend to the amazing NSW community. Every citizen that chooses to participate in Return and Earn through the NSW TOMRA Cleanaway network is choosing to be part of a circular economy. Citizen participation is what makes Return and Earn the incredible success story that it is.  

As Network Operator, TOMRA Cleanaway is inspired and motivated to continue to deliver further improvement and opportunities for all citizens across the State and remains focused and passionate about providing even more significant environmental and community outcomes for Return and Earn and the State of NSW in the year ahead.

On behalf of all of us at TOMRA Cleanaway, please accept our best regards and wishes for a happy, healthy, safe and prosperous year ahead in 2023 – with many happy returns, of course! 

Happy New Year from all of us at TOMRA Cleanaway