Thanks to a new partnership between Virgin Australia and Envirobank, it’s now possible to earn Velocity points for recycling bottles. Sadly, the miserly rewards on offer are not worth the time and hassle involved.
For every bottle recycled, members of Envirobank’s Crunch program earn 15 “crunch credits”. These credits can be converted to 5 Velocity points, or put towards a range of other rewards. This doesn’t give you many Velocity points if you’re just recycling a single container, but the points could really add up when recycling hundreds or thousands of bottles.
In theory, the ability to earn Velocity points for recycling sounds like a great initiative. But there are several catches. Firstly, you would need to return the bottles to a designated Envirobank depot, reverse vending machine or mobile collection point. The problem is that there are only 13 permanent drop-off locations in the whole of Australia. Of these, only 7 are located in states that do not already have a government container deposit scheme. In NSW, SA and NT, you can already earn a 10-cent refund for every bottle returned to any of the many hundreds of government-operated reverse vending machines. So, chances are, you’ll have to drive much further to get to an Envirobank drop-off location. Not only does this take up a lot of time, but there’s something ironic about burning extra petrol to help the environment.
There is currently just one drop-off location in Sydney, which is at Revesby. A second location will soon open in Gosford. Similarly, there is just one reverse vending machine in the entire state of Queensland (in central Brisbane). There are no drop-off points at all in Tasmania or the ACT.
The extra drive could be worth it if the rewards on offer were worthwhile. But at this point that does not appear to be the case. Essentially, you would be forgoing the usual 10 cent refund per bottle to earn just 5 Velocity points. This means you’re effectively paying 2 cents per Velocity point. That’s hardly good value, considering that frequent flyer points are generally valued at around 1 cent each.
Envirobank does offer other ways to redeem crunch credits. You can convert crunch credits to gift vouchers with various retailers and make donations to charity. Cash back rewards are also available to residents of NSW, SA and NT. But you’re only getting 10 cents of value per bottle recycled – the same as you would earn anyway by recycling at an official government reverse vending machine. Despite the claims on Envirobank’s website, we could not find a single redemption option that provides greater than 10 cents of value per bottle recycled.
The extra catch is that you need at least 750 crunch credits to redeem for anything other than Velocity points. What’s more, Envirobank keeps a 5% commission on charity donations. So the charity would be better off if you took a cash reward and donated the money yourself.
But wait… there’s one more catch. According to Envirobank’s terms & conditions, it could take up to 30 days after recycling your bottles before the crunch credits appear in your account. After that, it takes up to 30 more days after redeeming the credits before you receive your reward. The usual 10-cent refund is instant.
Earning Velocity points for recycling bottles could be a worthwhile option if you lived in a state without an existing government-run container recycling scheme. But Queensland and ACT will introduce their own schemes from July this year anyway, and WA will follow in January 2019. This will leave Victoria as the only state with Envirobank drop-off points that does not already have a government recycling scheme in place. You could still benefit if you happen to live near one of the Victorian Envirobank locations in Hoppers Crossing, Werribee or Point Cook. Otherwise, we’d recommend simply recycling your bottles at one of the many government drop-off points in your state.
The partnership between Velocity and Envirobank is an interesting idea with plenty of potential. But for most people, we just can’t see the value in it.
Join the discussion on the Australian Frequent Flyer forum: Recycle your drink cans & bottles into small change & VFF points!