Fundraise by recycling

The ACT Container Deposit Scheme (CDS) is a great way for schools to get involved in recycling, help the environment, and raise funds.

Launched in 2018, the scheme aims to reduce litter and landfill. Two and half years on it has achieved this goal and more. Over 100 million containers have been recycled through the scheme, the volume of eligible drink containers in the ACT litter stream has decreased by 23 per cent and it has also become a valuable fundraising tool for charities, community groups and students across the Territory.

When you deposit eligible bottles and cans through the ACT CDS, you are sending them to be recycled, turning waste into a clean and higher,  valuable resource. Plus, you earn 10 cents for each container returned making it an easy way to fundraise while helping the environment. 

Using the scheme for fundraising is appealing for many reasons. In schools, it is a way to reduce litter on school grounds, teach students about recycling and embed sustainable practices at the school.

Container recycling also takes advantage of a free resource for fundraising. It gives monetary value to something that was previously seen as litter or waste. It is also something everyone can take part in — whether a student recycles two bottles or 20.WasteWarriors

At Fraser Primary School, five Year 6 students formed the Waste Wise Warriors. Mim Thurkettle, Elsie Harding, Lucy Lawton, Molly Campbell, and Charlie Noble became the driving force behind the school’s mission to collect as many eligible containers as possible, to keep them out of landfill and raise funds for their school garden through the ACT CDS.

“We love doing this, we feel like we are doing our bit for the environment but also raising money for our school,” said Lucy. “It’s good to know we’re achieving something like this.”

Other ACT schools have used the scheme to fundraise for activities such as the end of year formal. Across Australia, students have fundraised for solar panels, playground equipment, social support activities and more.

Fundraising toolkit

GuideCoverTo help schools and parent associations get involved, the ACT CDS has launched a new Fundraising Toolkit full of resources and tips.

Firstly, knowing what containers are eligible is important. It’s the smaller, more portable drink containers, between 150mL to 3L that are eligible. They need to be empty and the ‘10c’ symbol needs to be visible. Lids need to be disposed of before returning and uncrushed cans are preferred.

Containers can be dropped off at one of the many return points across the Territory. Each type of return point offers different refund options:

  • Drop & Go Points are located at selected stores including IGAs and Vinnies and are a fast and convenient option for returning less than 500 containers.
  • Drop & Go Pods are ideal to return a smaller number of bags of drink containers and provide electronic refunds as well as donation options to your school or P&C
  • Cash-back Depots accept bulk returns as well as small quantities, and offer payment options of cash, electronic refund, or refunds can be directly donated to one of several charities associated with the return point.


Tips for schools

There are several options for collecting and returning containers for your fundraising.

Collection points at school

Set up collection stations at the school for students to fill with their empty drink containers. Identify suitable collection points within your school, such as near the canteen or recreational areas, or in each classroom. Provide clean bins, labelled with signs showing pictures of eligible  cans and bottles — use one of the posters included in the Fundraising Toolkit. When the bins are full, parent volunteers can take them to a return point and collect the funds. Remember to think about volunteer safety (there’s the chance of broken glass) and to get a receipt for the P&C Treasurer!

Make an account for families & friends to use

If the school — or volunteers — aren’t keen on handling containers, you can create an online account for your P&C or school and share your account number with the wider school community for their deposits to go into. Simply sign up for an Express Account using your school’s phone number and encourage your community to donate their refunds directly to your express account by using your school’s phone number when they drop off.

Make it competitive

Another great way to inspire people to get involved is through a competition. Late last year Evoenergy and Icon Water challenged one another to see who could return the most containers throughout November and donate the most money to charity. The friendly competition was a fun way to engage staff in a worthwhile cause while also doing something positive for the environment.

Big event? Hire a trailer and bins!Trailer

If you are planning a big event but don’t know how you’ll store and transport the containers, the ACT CDS network operator, Return-It, has introduced a free trailer hire program for schools, communities and businesses. You can make a booking directly on the website.

Return-it can help

Return-it can help in a variety of ways, such as lending bins for events or even organising school excursions to one of the Cash-back depots for a behind the scenes tour.

For more information about return points, eligible containers, trailer hire and fundraising,  or to sign up for an account or download the Toolkit visit

 See how two more schools made collecting containers work!

This article appeared in ParentACTion Magazine, Term 1, 2021.