2022 NSW Environmental Citizen of the Year Awards

Each year, local councils award Citizen of the Year Awards.

About the Awards

The Australia Day Council of NSW (ADCNSW) has again partnered with Return and Earn to present the Environmental Citizen of the Year Awards. Since its introduction in 2019, the Environmental Citizen of the Year Awards provide an exciting platform to recognise individuals or organisations championing environmental initiatives in their communities. In 2022, the Awards will include the NSW Environmental Citizen of the Year Award and a Runner-Up Award.

Every Australia Day local councils within NSW are offered the opportunity to award an Environmental Citizen of the Year. Councils then have the opportunity to nominate their local winners for the State Awards. The State winners are selected by an assessment panel and announced on World Environment Day (Sunday, 5 June 2022), receiving a certificate and a one-off donation.

Community Partner - Return & Earn

The NSW Environmental Citizen of the Year Awards is sponsored by Return & Earn, a NSW Government initiative that provides a 10c refund for each eligible drink container returned. The benefits of the scheme have extended beyond just litter reduction to deliver strong environmental, economic, and social benefits to the NSW community and demonstrates how all of us can contribute to sustainability for future generations.

Return and Earn is an example of how small changes to our routines can collectively have a big and positive impact on our environment.

More than 7 billion bottles and cans have been returned through the network of 620+ return points across the state, seeing more than $700 million in refunds returned to the NSW community. Over $30 million has been raised for community groups and charities through donations and hosting fees since the scheme launched in December 2017.

Return and Earn is pleased to support the NSW Environmental Citizen of the Year Awards to recognise and celebrate individuals and organisations who share our vision for a more sustainable future.

Environmental Citizen of the Year Awards nominees

The Environmental Citizen of the Year recognises individuals and groups for work such as:

  • efforts to preserve the environment within their local community
  • the ability to foster partnerships that achieve litter reduction and recycling outcomes
  • the use of the Return and Earn scheme to help fundraise for a meaningful cause

The nominees for the 2022 NSW Environmental Citizen of the Year Awards are listed below.

Join us in congratulating this year's nominees.

Susan Baker

Susan Baker and the Dunbogan Bushcare Group are a group of dedicated environmental warriors, who have restored more than 20 hectares of highly degraded habitat on the NSW north coast. Sue has also worked hard to increase community knowledge of local environmental issues, currently writing a newspaper column, plus three children’s books about the environment.

Robert Boota

Robert Boota and the dedicated Githabul Rangers have been actively involved in the solution to environmental problems in local native forests in Northern NSW. By treating invasive weeds and addressing issues related to poor land management, the group has been able to protect native plants and animals, which will improve the environment for future generations to enjoy.

Cessnock Community Leo Club

Cessnock Community Leo Club is helping both local ecosystems and its community’s mental health to thrive with the Wildflower Planting Project. The project encourages local residents to purchase packets of seeds from the Club and to plant them in unused public land and local parks. The project has already improved local ecosystems by providing food and nutrients to birds and pollinators, as well as boosting the wellbeing of residents.

The Bangalow Koalas Community Wildlife corridor

The Bangalow Koalas Community Wildlife corridor’s passionate volunteers, devote their time to protecting habitat for threatened species and ecological communities in the state’s Northern Rivers. Their long-term mission is to create a Koala wildlife corridor to encourage koalas out of urban areas and away from threats by planting 500,000 trees by 2025.

Sanjeev Kumar

Sanjeev Kumar is a correctional officer, Horticulture overseer and environmental entrepreneur at Sydney’s Parklea Correctional Centre. His environmental philosophy has seen the prison embark on many sustainable projects, such as edible gardens. Sanjeev is also passionate about teaching inmates and younger generations about the environment and sustainability, to give them a better chance of gaining employment after they leave the prison. 

Rocky Hill Reserve Regeneration Project

Rocky Hill Reserve Regeneration Project This group of passionate volunteers has been doing what it can to prevent Rocky Hill in Wagga Wagga from becoming degraded. They have spent more than 870 hours on site over the past year alone, eradicating woody and other weed species, removing rubbish and working with council to improve access for families.

Hampers of Hope Project

Hampers of Hope Project rescues food that would otherwise end up as landfill and distributes it to community members who need it most. In a single day, members collect 400 kgs of food and 170 hampers per week. Hampers of Hope, the 2021 Award winner, based in the Riverina, are committed to addressing issues around food wastage and sustainability by redistributing unused food along the supply chain.

Alexis Bowman

Alexis Bowman’s commitment to reducing the amount of Campbelltown’s recyclable material entering landfill led to The Bin Chicken initiative. The Bin Chicken shows the community that recycling holds value by using 10c refunds from containers to run the Community Pantry and Recycling hub in St Andrews. This hub is free for the community to access any time, when in need of pantry staples and has improved access for “hard to recycle” items.

Northpark Mines

Northpark Mines is working hard to transform degraded land into functioning woodland by establishing a conservation area on its copper and gold mine in central NSW.  Northpark Mines has also trained and employed local people to give them the opportunity to gain valuable skills and experiences for their future careers.

World Environment Day 2022

The winners of the 2022 Environmental Citizen of the Year Awards will be announced on World Environment Day, Sunday 5 June 2022.

Past winners


Hampers of Hope on Facebook

For their initiative to reduce the amount of food waste going into landfill.

Griffith based food-rescue group, Hampers of Hope, has taken out the award for NSW Environmental Citizen of the Year, with a Year 7 class at Coonabarabran High School receiving the top honour in the NSW Young Citizen of the Year category.

Mr Kean highlighted the importance of the awards in promoting community champions and grass root organisations.

“From recycling and litter reduction, to creating community gardens and protecting our oceans - the calibre of this year’s nominees is extraordinary. I commend the winners, and all nominees for their initiatives to conserve the environment while growing community spirit,” Mr Kean said.

“Both Hampers of Hope, for their work in the Griffith region and the students at Coonabarabran High are making a real difference in their local communities and setting an important example for others to follow.”

Hampers of Hope is being recognized for its work creating more than 130 hampers per week, providing hundreds of individual meals per day to disadvantaged people.


Robert (Bob) Jolley – Wentworth Shire Council

Preserving the Environment

Small steps lead to big results. This is especially true for eco-warrior Robert Jolley. Even though he’s in his eighties, Bob has been collecting bottles and cans for recycling over many years, generously donating all the profits to local projects.

He’s helped raise over more than $25,000 for the Wentworth skate park and is currently splitting his earnings between a new day care centre and a youth centre for the drought-affected Wentworth Shire.

From the amount Bob has donated, it’s estimated he’s collected more than 294,000 bottles and cans that will no longer end up in landfill.


Gulargambone Lions Club (Coonamble Shire Council)

Sometimes heroes club together. Lions Clubs around Australia work to solve local problems and build stronger, kinder communities. The members of the Lions Club of Gulargambone realised their community was generating far too much waste and something needed to be done.

They decided to use the Return and Earn scheme to help the environment and benefit their community. Their members diligently collected thousands of recyclable cans, bottles and vehicle batteries over the course of year and took them to Return and Earn points in the area. The money collected has gone back into their community through various local projects to make Gulargambone a better place to live

The club continues to work hard on container collection so they can fund good work in their community for years to come.


Presenting Partners

Major Sponsors