Now there’s another way to spend the voucher you get from a Return and Earn bottle and can recycling machine – buying yourself a beer.
The scheme’s reverse vending machines spit out a voucher with the amount of your refund – often less than $10.
The idea is that people go into Woolworths, where the machines are located and spend that voucher.
But Bulli Brewing Company owner Michael Peloquin is providing another option.
The Unanderra-based brewery (Mr Peloquin liked the name but couldn’t actually find a location in the northern Illawarra suburb) will treat the vouchers as legal tender in their on-site cafe.
And Mr Peloquin says the vouchers can even be used to buy a beer at the brewery bar.
The Canadian-Born brewer says something similar happens in his home country, where a business called Canadian Tire – the Canuck version of Bunnings – offers customers its own “money” in small denominations.
Other businesses who shop there will accept “Canadian Tire Money” as legal tender.
Mr Peloquin decided to do something similar when his mother-in-law was visiting and he needed to get rid of a stack of empty beer bottles and cans that had accumulated.
“I thought, ‘that really looks bad, having boxes of empties in the shed’, so I took them all up the Woolies at Bulli to put them through the machine,” he says.
“I got my little slip and thought, ‘oh what do I do with this now?’
“So I thought ‘I wonder if shops took it as legal tender’. Especially cafes, where they could then use it to go back in and buy something at Woolworths.”
It is also a good deal for the recycler, who might have a voucher worth only $5 or $6 but doesn’t want to buy something at the supermarket just for the sake of it.
Mr Peloquin might be the first business to treat the Return and Earn vouchers as real cash, but he’s pretty sure he won't be the last.
“I think other people will jump on the bandwagon and do the same thing,” Mr Peloquin says.
“It’s not rocket science – how do you get more customers to come in? Well, you accept those Woolies coupons.
“It’s like a $5 note – it doesn’t have anyone’s name on it.”