UNSW’s sustainability credentials recognised by Keep Australia Beautiful

UNSW’s sustainability credentials have been recognised in the Keep Australia Beautiful NSW Sustainable Cities Awards.

| 18 Oct 2018

UNSW’s sustainability credentials have been recognised in the Keep Australia Beautiful NSW Sustainable Cities Awards.


UNSW Sydney has been recognised at the 2018 Keep Australia Beautiful Awards for installing a reverse vending machine on campus which has helped recycle nearly 1.5 million containers.

UNSW was highly commended in the Return and Earn Litter Prevention award category in Sydney on Wednesday for helping to reduce litter in the environment and increasing recycling rates within the University and local community. The award honours programs or projects that provide for and encourage the use of the NSW Government’s Container Deposit Scheme (CDS) in a local area.

Environment and Sustainability Manager at UNSW Arifa Sarfraz said: “As a university with considerable expertise in sustainability-related research and teaching, UNSW is committed to practicing what it preaches. Schemes like Return and Earn are critical in driving real change in sustainable waste management and we’re proud to be providing leadership on this issue.

“This is recognition of the hard work the University’s staff, students and neighbouring community are contributing to ensure we reduce the number of disposable containers ending up in landfill.”



UNSW was the first educational institution in NSW to install a reverse vending as part of the ‘Return and Earn’ container deposit scheme.

The scheme aims to improve recycling rates and reduce the volume of litter in the state by 40% by 2020.

The initiative allows UNSW staff, students and the wider community to earn 10 cents for every eligible drink container returned to the machine.

Since its installation at Kensington campus in January, 1.5 million glass, plastic and steel containers have been recycled through the machine. The result is an equivalent of $150,000 returned to the community. 

The Keep Australia Beautiful NSW Sustainable Cities Awards recognise projects which not only enhance the environment but also improve the standard of living and well-being of urban communities.

UNSW’s implementation of the scheme was highly commended due to its far-reaching benefits to the broad spectrum of participants involved, including academic and professional staff, students, industry partners and the local community.

Return and Earn has become an integral part of UNSW’s plastic waste strategy. In 2018, use of the machine during the University’s Plastic Free July initiative resulted in a 20 per cent increase on the average containers recycled per week compared to the previous month.

Ms Sarfraz said: “For us, the greatest success of this project has been the awareness and sense of environmental responsibility we have been able to foster among staff, students and visitors.

“By offering bottle recycling as a free and easily-accessible service to any user, the University has also been able to support our local Randwick community and neighbouring suburbs whose own access to RVM’s was very limited when the initiative was first announced.

“Our experience shows that if you remain committed as an organisation, initiatives such as these can help transform people's behaviours around recycling and environmental sustainability. We hope our efforts have set in place a mechanism for other education institutes to replicate and follow.”

For more details on the reverse vending machine at UNSW, head here.