“Containers 4 Kids” recycling appeal in Australia helps brighten the lives of sick kids in hospital

The experiences of sick kids in hospitals have been significantly impacted by COVID-19. According to research conducted by Starlight Children's Foundation, these children have felt more isolated than ever. From November 2021 to April 2022, TOMRA Collection Australia and Cleanaway launched a campaign asking the public to turn their empty drink containers into smiles and much-needed support to raise money for sick kids and their families.

With these hardships ongoing, recycling drink containers and donating the refund to Containers 4 Kids is a great way to support Starlight’s vital services while helping the environment.

David Clancy General Manager, Cleanaway Solid Waste Services New South Wales

Bringing back the fun and happiness that is essential to childhood

Every minute of every day, a child in Australia is admitted to a hospital. Research from the Starlight Children's Foundation shows that as a result of COVID-19, hospital experiences have been dramatically impacted for thousands of sick kids across Australia. “Children who are hospitalized have been lonelier and more isolated than ever before,” said Kristie Caddick, Starlight Head of Marketing & Fundraising.

Starlight Children's Foundation helps brighten the lives of seriously ill children by replacing their pain, fear, and stress with activities of joy, fun and laughter. There is now a Starlight Express Room where children can have fun activities with a Captain Starlight, in nine children’s hospitals across Australia, and over 170 Captain Starlights nationwide.

The Captain Starlight program helps sick kids feel happier, more confident and puts them in a better place to deal with the pain and stress of hospital and treatment. For children with serious illnesses, the Starlight Express Rooms provide a haven from the endless medical procedures and treatments that they endure. Starlight Children’s Foundation aims to provide a positive experience for children and their families while they are in a hospital.

Turning empty containers into children’s smiles

The desire to bring smiles and happiness back to children’s faces inspired TOMRA Collection Australia and Cleanaway to partner with Starlight Children’s Foundation, to raise funds through the local deposit return system to create fun activities and positive support for thousands of kids in hospital. 

The Containers 4 Kids appeal was launched in time for the National Recycling Week in November 2021, aiming to encourage Aussie recyclers to donate their 10-cent deposit refunds from their empty drink cans and bottles to support the campaign, while saving the environment. Recyclers could select to donate their deposits direct from the screen on any TOMRA reverse vending machine where they returned their containers for recycling. 

“With these hardships ongoing, recycling drink containers and donating the refund to Containers 4 Kids is a great way to support Starlight’s vital services while helping the environment. We’re proud to be working with TOMRA to promote this important cause and play a small part in bringing happiness and laughter to sick kids, teens and their families at such a tough time in their lives,” said David Clancy, General Manager, Cleanaway Solid Waste Services New South Wales, the logistics provider for the Return and Earn deposit return system.

How donations helped bring back happiness

At the conclusion of the campaign in April 2022, Starlight Children's Foundation raised AU$122,540 in funds via the return and recycling of 1.2 million drink containers. So thanks to the generosity of Aussie recyclers, the Containers 4 Kids appeal will help brighten the lives of 3,140 sick children and their families.

Handover of cheque to Starlight Foundation

In addition, the return of 1.2 million drink containers for recycling also helped save 7 million liters of water, prevent 52 tonnes of materials to end up in landfill and helped avoid 144 tonnes of carbon emissions. It is great to see that so many people have supported the cause to help sick kids, while making the world a better place for them at the same time.

“As more traditional face-to-face fundraising methods have been limited due to the pandemic, we have really seen an incredible growth in the numbers of schools, sporting groups, charities and other community organizations using Return and Earn to raise much needed funds. We’re proud that the scheme can support these important causes and continues to deliver strong social, economic and environmental benefits for New South Wales,” said Danielle Smalley, CEO of Exchange for Change, scheme coordinator of Return and Earn.

“The need for Starlight’s programs has never been greater. Necessary hospital restrictions have only added to the stress faced by kids and families already facing the unimaginable challenges of serious illness. Funds raised through the ‘Containers for Kids’ campaign will help Starlight continue to bring joy and positive distraction to sick kids in hospital at a time when they need it most,” said Kristie Caddick, Starlight Head of Marketing & Fundraising.