Container Deposit Recycling Hotline

Container Deposit Schemes in Australia

Collected beverage containers © Planet Ark

What’s a container deposit scheme?

The container deposit scheme (CDS) is one of the first pieces of environmental legislation to focus on the ‘polluter pays’ principle, where a beverage suppliers are responsible for funding a refund for returned drink containers. If someone discards an empty container they forfeit the right to the refund and someone else would benefit by picking it up and collecting that refund. 

It is also an example of product stewardship legislation in which the beverage industry is obliged to take greater responsibility for its packaging after it has been sold. Beverage suppliers must ensure that a system is in place for the recovery and recycling of their empty beverage containers. 

Eligible containers can be taken to a collection depot or placed in a reverse vending machine to reclaim money for their drink container.

What are the benefits?

With waste becoming a bigger and bigger problem, container deposit schemes provide a financial incentive to reduce litter, leading to cleaner beaches, waterways, parks and streets, and mean less recyclable materials are sent to landfill.

New South Wales

As of May 2016, the NSW Government committed to implementing a 10-cent container deposit scheme, to be implemented by July 2017.

What’s covered?

Most drink containers between 150ml and 3L that display a NSW CDS label can be returned.

From the commencement of the scheme in NSW all beverage suppliers and retailers must sell eligible beverage containers that display the required EPA approved CDS labeling, to be developed in the coming months.

What’s NOT covered?
  • Plain/unflavoured milk (or milk substitute) containers (cartons, glass or plastic)
  • Flavoured milk containers 1 litre or more
  • Pure fruit or vegetable juice containers 1 litre or more
  • Glass containers for wine and spirits
  • Casks (plastic bladders in boxes) for wine and casks for water – 1 litre or more
  • Sachets for wine 250ml or more
  • Containers for cordials, concentrated fruit/vegetable juices
  • Registered health tonics

As the primary aim of the program is to reduce litter, containers for drinks that are usually consumed at home, like wine bottles and milk and juice cartons, aren’t covered, although they can be recycled in kerbside systems as usual. Search RecyclingNearYou to find out if your council accepts them.

Who is it funded by? 

Beverage suppliers (manufacturer, importer, wholesaler or retailer) that bring eligible containers into NSW will be responsible for funding the 10-cent refund as well as associated costs.

Councils will receive the refund for drink containers that end up in kerbside recycling bins, which will go to improving their waste services and reduce the cost of waste collections. 

Where are the collection points?

The NSW scheme coordinator is responsible for delivering statewide coverage through a network of collection depots and reverse vending machines. The full list of collection depots will be available on the EPA's website before the scheme's launch.

For more information about the NSW container deposit scheme visit the NSW EPA website.

Northern Territory

The Northern Territory launched its scheme in 2011.

What’s covered?
  • Carbonated soft drinks, 3L or less
  • Non-carbonated, soft drinks: including (but not limited to) fruit/juice based drinks (containing less than 90% juice), ‘sports’ drinks, ‘vitamin’ drinks, ‘energy’ drinks, ready to drink cordials, 3L or less
  • Pure fruit/vegetable juice: means a liquid at least 90% of which is fruit juice and/or vegetable juice.
  • Flavoured milk, less than 1L
  • Water: plain, still or carbonated spring water, mineral water and any other water intended for human consumption, less than 1L
  • Beer, cider and mixed drinks, 3L or less
  • Wine in plastic or sachets, less than 250ml
  • Wine in casks, less than 1L 

What’s NOT covered?

  • Unflavoured milk (cartonsglass or plastic)
  • Concentrated fruit and/or vegetable juice intended to be diluted before consumption
  • Health tonic included on the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods
  • Cordial (undiluted)
  • Glass wine and spirit bottles 

For a full list, click here.

Search RecyclingNearYou to find out what is accepted in your kerbside collection.

Who is it funded by?

Beverage suppliers that bring eligible containers into the NT will be responsible for funding the 10-cent refund as well as associated costs.

Where are the collection points?

For a full list of collection points in the Northern Territory, please visit the NT EPA website.

Community groups, sporting clubs and schools can get involved by establishing donation collection points for approved containers. For more information, email containerdeposit@nt.gov.au or phone 1800 752 632.

South Australia

The South Australian scheme, running since 1977, has resulted in an 80% return rate of containers and saw charities and community groups raise $60 million last year through clean-up projects.

The container deposit scheme also provides a financial benefit to community groups, sporting clubs and charities that collect empty containers for refund. In 2012–13 nearly $60 million was refunded to the community.

What’s covered?
  • Carbonated soft drinks, 3L or less
  • Non-carbonated, soft drinks: including (but not limited to) fruit juice based drinks (containing less than 90% juice), ‘sports’ drinks, ‘vitamin’ drinks, ‘energy’ drinks, ready to drink cordials, 3L or less
  • Water: plain, still or carbonated spring water, mineral water and any other water intended for human consumption, less than 1L
  • Pure fruit/vegetable juice: means a liquid at least 90% of which is fruit juice and/or vegetable juice, less than 1L
  • Flavoured milk: less than 1L
  • Beers, cider and mixed drinks, 3L or less
  • Spirits: a liqueur or other alcoholic beverage produced by distillation (eg: brandy, gin, rum, vodka, whisky), 3L or less, non-glass only
  • Wine in plastic or sachets, less than 250ml
  • Wine in casks, less than 1L
What’s NOT covered?
  • Unflavoured milk (cartonsglass or plastic)
  • Concentrated fruit and/or vegetable juice intended to be diluted before consumption
  • Health tonic included on the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods
  • Cordial (undiluted)
  • Glass wine and spirit bottles 

For a full list see the SA EPA website.

Search RecyclingNearYou to find out what is accepted in your kerbside collection.

Who is it funded by?

Beverage suppliers that bring eligible containers into SA will be responsible for funding the 10-cent refund as well as associated costs.

Where are the collection points?

For a full list of collection points, please visit the SA EPA website.

Queensland

In July 2016, Environment Minister Dr Steven Miles confirmed that a Container Deposit Scheme would start in 2018. It was announced that Queensland and New South Wales had entered into high-level talks about setting up a single-scheme administrator to deliver a CDS in both states.