Container deposit schemes are multiplying across Australia, giving consumers a chance to boost their incomes through recycling.
Most states now have schemes, with pressure increasing on Victoria and Tasmania to sign up and complete the national expansion.
In some cities the 10c per container refunds have gone digital, and there are ways to maximise the money you can earn from handing back used cans and plastic bottles.
Pavel Khroustalev, 38, earns about $200 a week from collecting containers, regularly visiting a TOMRA reverse vending machine to offload his haul.
“I try to pick up bottles everywhere I can to do my bit for the environment,” he said.
“Now, I never leave home without a plastic bag just in case I find litter on the way.”
Mr Khroustalev gets his refunds deposited into his PayPal digital wallet using the MyTOMRA app, which he said made the process convenient.
Reverse vending machines currently operate in New South Wales and Queensland, while other states and territories use collection depots.
PayPal Australia head of business development John Stitt said more than one in 10 recyclers opted for digital refunds.
“In 2018, PayPal users recycled more than 120 million containers which equates to more than 33,000 containers every day,” he said.
The first state-based container deposit scheme appeared in South Australia in 1977, followed by the Northern Territory in 2012, NSW in 2017, and the ACT and Queensland last year.
A scheme is set to start in Western Australia in 2020.
Container deposit campaigner Boomerang Alliance says Tasmania is showing positive signs, and a poll last year by the Total Environment Centre found 84 per cent of Victorians think a scheme should be introduced.
People who make good money from container collection often target public events, while others crush their cans to preserve storage space before heading to a depot.
However, cans should not be crushed by people using reverse vending machines, said RecyclingNearYou head of sustainable resources programs Ryan Collins.
“The machine needs to read the barcode on the bottles and cans to confirm their eligibility,” he said.
“Only go to drop off your containers once you have a decent amount — it saves time and fuel.
“And separate your plastic and glass containers to help save time.”
Originally published as Make $200 a week recycling