Queensland has reported that more than 173,000 people have signed up for the Containers for Change scheme in just six months.

Queensland Minister for Environment Leeanne Enoch launched the scheme on 1 November to reduce beverage container litter.

The initiative has seen more than 500 million containers returned and recycled within one week of its launch.

The container refund scheme is implemented and managed by the Australian not-for-profit organisation Container Exchange (CoEx). The scheme offers a A$0.10 refund for every eligible container returned.

According to the government, Queensland generates approximately three billion containers annually. Containers were the second most littered item before the return scheme was launched.

The scheme has also seen more than $50m reinvested into community organisations and charities around the state. It has also created 640 jobs in the process.

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The scheme has seen a 35% reduction in container litter in the environment.

Container Exchange chairman Mark O’Brien noted that the company is operating 275 container refund points and plans to introduce reverse vending machines across Queensland in the future.

In a statement released in March, Enoch said: “One of the best parts of Containers for Change is the funding stream it provides to community groups and charities, and it’s fantastic to see Sunshine Coast groups benefiting from this.

“The scheme has seen a 35% reduction in container litter in the environment.”

“Across the Sunshine Coast region, more than 12.7 million containers have been returned since the scheme started, and more than 283 million have been returned across Queensland.

“Businesses are also seeing the opportunities that this scheme provides, and a new site will be opening on the Sunshine Coast very soon at Cooroy.”