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Recycling of eligible drink containers has soared by 69 per cent in NSW since the Return and Earn container deposit scheme was implemented a year ago, and Coca-Cola Australia is partnering with environmental collective CitizenBlue to take advantage of the program as part of its recycling goals.

The volume of CDS-eligible drink containers entering the litter stream has dropped by nearly half since November 2017, says NSW environment minister Gabrielle Upton. "Before Return and Earn, many drink bottles and cans became litter and only a third were being recycled through yellow lidded bins.

"Now the trend is reversed: far more are recycled than are littered and the state is a cleaner place," says Upton.

Litter volume has dropped across all categories, with eligible drink containers hitting an all-time low of 37 per cent of the NSW litter stream. 26 million containers are processed every week. "More than half the drink containers in the marketplace (54 per cent) are now being recovered, compared with the 32 per cent that was being collected in yellow bins before Return and Earn kicked in.

"When combined with the 710 million drink containers collected in yellow bins between December 2017 and September, we now know there has been a massive 69 per cent increase in the number of drink containers recovered compared with yellow bin collections over a similar period last year," says Upton.

Coca-Cola and CitizenBlue’s new campaign will see drink container bins placed in venues and events around NSW. Refunds collected from the containers through the CDS will go to environmental and community charities.

According to Christine Black, director of public affairs and sustainability at Coca-Cola South Pacific, the partnership with CitizenBlue is part of the company’s global sustainable packaging strategy. “Locally, we are focusing our efforts on designing packaging to be 100 per cent recyclable across our entire portfolio and increasing the recycled content we use in our packaging.

“This partnership is part of the next step for Cola-Cola in tackling drink container waste, whilst inspiring positive change to ensure our bottles and cans have another life beyond their first use,” says Black.

Susie Crick, chair of CitizenBlue member the Surfrider Foundation Australia, says the partnership will put a spotlight on recycling. “Our aim is for these activities to enhance and promote existing recycling efforts through the CDS in NSW.

“More organisations and businesses coming together to find solutions to tackle waste and recycling is better for the environment and the sector, not to mention a funding boost for charities,” she says.

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