"Cans For Koalas" recycling appeal helps Australian wildlife recover from devastating bushfires

More than 3 billion animals perished as a result of the devastating bushfires of 2019-2020, and millions of other animals have been left homeless. World Wide Fund for Nature Australia partnered with TOMRA to launch the “Cans For Koalas” recycling fundraising appeal to help Australian wildlife recover from this disaster.

The aftermath of the shocking bushfires of the 2019-2020 summer season in Australia destroyed more than 19 million hectares of land across the country. Nearly 3 billion native vertebrates were within the forests and woodlands that burned – including 143 million mammals, 2.46 billion reptiles, 180 million birds, and 51 million frogs. The total estimated cost of recovery and reparation of property damage and economic losses is over AU$ 103 billion.

Australia's most trusted environmental NGO builds on previous donation success

World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) is an international environmental organization with a network in more than 100 countries, and is Australia's most trusted environmental NGO. In January 2020, WWF-Australia set up the AU$30 million Australian Wildlife and Nature Recovery Fund to deliver emergency wildlife response, habit restoration for people and nature, and future-proofing Australia to drive innovative solutions for long-term climate preparedness and species adapation. In February 2020, TOMRA launched a recycling appeal to support and provide ongoing care to the recovery of wildlife through local deposit return systems for drink container recycling. The initiative enabled Australian recyclers the option to donate their 10-cent beverage container refund by selecting “Cans For Koalas” on any TOMRA reverse machine across Queensland, New South Wales and the Northern Territory until 23rd August 2020. 100% of donations went to WWF-Australia and helped restore affected habitats of iconic local species such as koalas, kangaroos, kookaburras, and other wildlife. “Cans for Koalas” followed on from the previous donation program, “Bottles for the Bush”, which was created to support regional communities affected by ongoing bushfires and drought.

Ryan Buzzell, President of TOMRA Collections Solutions Australia, is positive about the achievements of the recycling appeal. “Following the recent success of our Bottles for the Bush campaign – which saw us double our original $250,000 donation target – combined with the popularity of container deposit schemes, we are hopeful that this initiative will engage the community and exceed our fund-raising expectations,” he explains.

Unique opportunity to restore wildlife

TOMRA's partnership with WWF-Australia offered Australians the unique opportunity to donate the proceeds from recycling their beverage containers to aid ongoing care and revitalize wildlife. “The devastation caused by these bushfires is unprecedented and the recovery work ahead is immense,” said Dermot O'Gorman, CEO of WWF-Australia. "With the generous donations of the public, and together with TOMRA, $173,000 was raised that will help us continue to respond to affect wildlife and deliver long-term plans and actions to restore what has been lost.” The total amount of $173,000 raised by the end of August 2020 is equivalent to 1,737,910 empty drink bottles and cans returned and their refunds donated. The accumulated donations have helped provide bandages and medicine for injured koalas, assisted in rehabilitating and releasing koalas back into the wild, and helped to restore habitats for koalas.