Container Deposit Scheme

ACT Container Deposit Scheme

Questions and answers

The ACT will establish a container deposit scheme (CDS) in early 2018. Consumers will be able to return eligible beverage containers to designated drop-off points and receive a 10 cent refund for each container.

Q. What is a CDS?

CDS is a product stewardship or extended producer responsibility scheme which obliges beverage suppliers to take greater responsibility for packaging after it has been sold.

It is an effective and popular means of reducing litter and encouraging community participation in recycling.

CDS requires beverage suppliers to ensure that a system is in place for the recovery and recycling of their empty beverage containers.

Q. Why is the ACT establishing a CDS?

The CDS will to reduce litter, recover and increase the recycling rates of used containers and help engage the community in active and positive recycling behaviours.

This initiative promotes a cleaner environment in water ways, parks and roadsides.

The CDS rewards the community for avoiding littering and increasing recycling by offering a refund on the types of beverage containers often found in the litter stream.

The 2015-16 National Litter Index indicated around 25% of ACT litter by volume comprises beverage containers.  The next largest proportion of litter is from take-away cups and food containers.

The CDS influences littering behaviour in two ways:

  • It encourages the person consuming the drink to hold onto the empty container for later redemption; and
  • It provides an incentive for other people to pick up littered containers to receive the refund.

Q. When will the ACT CDS commence?

The exact commencement date is yet to be determined but is expected to be in early 2018.

Q. How will the CDS work in the ACT?

The CDS is established by legislation.  The Government is preparing a bill to amend the Waste Management and Resource Recovery Act 2016.  The ACT legislation is being based on the NSW CDS legislation – the NSW legislation was enacted in 2016.

It is expected the amendment bill will be introduced into the ACT Legislative Assembly in Spring and, once passed into law, will establish the ACT CDS.

The relevant Minister will have the power to enter into binding agreements with a Scheme Coordinator and a Network Operator who will run the ACT CDS.

The Scheme Coordinator will be responsible for managing financial and material flow data, contracts, payments, invoicing and auditing.  The Scheme Coordinator is also responsible for delivery of a payment system to enable consumers to claim container refunds.

The Network Operator will be responsible for the logistical management of containers within the ACT.  This includes establishing and managing a network of collection points which they can establish directly or by entering into agreements with collection point operators.  Examples of collection points include depots, shop fronts and reverse vending machines.

Beverage suppliers will be required to have beverages sold in eligible containers licenced by the ACT Government, and eligible containers will be required to display the CDS symbol when they are sold.

Beverage suppliers will enter into agreements with the Scheme Coordinator to provide funding to support the operation of the CDS.  This funding consists of two components; the 10 cent per container deposits and what are called handling fees.  It is the handling fees that fund the various components of the CDS, including the collection point infrastructure and operations (including staff), and the payment and data collection system.

Beverage suppliers will be able to pass on the cost of container deposits and handling fees to consumers via the wholesale price to the retailer.  Consumers will pay this when they purchase the beverage.

Consumers will be entitled to a 10 cent per container deposit refund when they return their containers to an approved collection point.

Q. Where will the containers go to after I drop them off at a collection point?

The containers collected at collection points will be taken to the ACT co-mingled Materials Recovery Facility (ACT MRF) at Hume to be sorted, aggregated/bundled and sold for recycling.

Q. Will the retail price of beverages increase in the ACT because of the CDS?

There are many factors that affect the retail price of beverages.  It is expected that the retail price of beverages in the ACT will increase due to the CDS.

Even if the ACT did not introduce a CDS it is likely the retail price of beverages in the ACT would increase anyway due to the effect of the NSW CDS.

Q. Will the ACT CDS be different to the NSW CDS?

The ACT is working with NSW to harmonise the ACT and NSW CDS with the aim of minimising confusion to consumers and the risk of cross-border trade.

Q. Will I be able to return containers purchased in the ACT at a NSW collection point?

The ACT is still working with NSW on cross-border matters.

Q. What beverage containers are included in the CDS and what are excluded?

It is proposed the ACT adopts the same eligibility criteria as the NSW CDS.  This means that most empty beverage containers with a volume between 150ml and 3 litres will be eligible.

The following beverage containers are excluded from the CDS:

  • Milk (other than flavoured milk) containers
  • Cordial containers
  • Containers for concentrated fruit or vegetable juice (or a mixture of concentrated fruit and vegetable juices) intended to be diluted before consumption
  • Registered health tonic containers
  • Containers designed to contain less than 150ml of beverage
  • Containers designed to contain more than 3L of beverage
  • Glass containers designed to contain only wine or spirituous liquor
  • Containers designed to contain 1L or more of flavoured milk
  • Containers designed to contain 1L or more of beverage comprising at least 90% fruit or vegetable juice (or a mixture of fruit and vegetable juices),
  • Containers made of cardboard and plastic, cardboard and foil or cardboard, plastic and foil (commonly known as casks or aseptic packs) designed to contain 1L or more of wine, wine-based beverage or water (including mineral water and spring water)
  • Containers made of plastic or foil, or both, (commonly known as sachets) designed to contain 250ml or more of wine.

The South Australian and Northern Territory CDSs also apply the same inclusions and exclusions but with the exception that they include containers with a volume of less than 150 ml.

Q. Why are some beverage containers excluded from the CDS?

A 2015 waste audit of household bins, public place bins and gross pollutant/stormwater traps conducted on behalf of the NSW Government found the following:

  • Water, flavoured water and soft drink containers are the predominant containers found in public bins and gross pollutant/stormwater traps
  • Containers with a volume of 150ml or less, and more than 3L, are rarely found in public bins and gross pollutant/stormwater traps
  • Plain milk, spirit and wine containers constitute a small percentage of waste found in public bins and gross pollutant/stormwater traps.

Q. The ACT Labor election announcement mentioned it would fund 20 reverse vending machines, why isn’t this being funded in the 2017-18 Budget?

The NSW Government initially announced it would deploy reverse vending machines (RVMs) across the State. However subsequently it accepted the advice of the NSW CDS Advisory Committee which recommended the NSW Government adopt a technology neutral stance and set performance targets for Network Operators. This provides the opportunity for industry to determine solutions that are cost effective and meet the needs of the particular community.

The ACT has adopted this position.

Q. I am a household, where will I drop off my beverage containers?

A network of drop off points across the ACT will be established by the CDS Network Operator.  The location and other details, such as opening hours, for these drop-off points has yet to be determined but will be announced later in the year closer to the commencement date.

Q. I own/run a food and beverage business, how do I dispose of my beverage containers?

You will be entitled to claim a 10 cent deposit refund on eligible beverage containers.  There are a number of options available to you, such as:

  • Taking the containers to an approved collection point for a direct refund
  • Engaging another party to take the containers to a collection point and sharing the deposit refund
  • Donating the containers to a community group or charity and allowing them to claim the deposit refund.

Q. Why an incentive of 10 cents?

A 10 cent deposit is being adopted across all State and Territory CDSs in Australia.

Research conducted by the City Sydney indicated overwhelmingly that a cash reward of 10 cents per container was the most effective means of motivating people to use the CDS.  There is a lack of evidence in regard to the effectiveness of non-financial incentives.

The ACT CDS may provide an option of consumer to donate their 10 cent deposit refunds to the charities of their choice.

Q. What impact will the CDS have on household kerbside (yellow lidded bin) recycling?

The CDS is expected to reduce the level of beverage containers to some degree.  The ACT Government will conduct an audit prior to the commencement of the CDS and this will allow measurement of the impact of CDS on both household recycling and garbage bins.

Around 10% of household garbage bin contents consist of recyclable containers and the CDS may motivate householders to redirect some of these to the CDS.

Q. Where else have CDSs been used?

CDSs operate in around 40 jurisdictions throughout the world including in South Australia and the Northern Territory.

South Australia established its CDS in 1977 and the Northern Territory established its CDS in 2012.

In NSW the Baird Liberal Government announced it would establish a CDS if re-elected in the 2015 State Elections. The Baird Government was returned and announced its CDS would commence in July 2017.  The commencement date was subsequently delayed to December 2017.  The NSW Government announced their appointed Scheme Coordinator and Network Operator on 29 July 2017, further information is available in the media release (PDF 308KB). In mid-2016 both the Western Australian and Queensland Governments announced they would establish CDS programs in 2018.

Q. Why don’t we have a national CDS?

Implementation of an Australia-wide CDS requires the agreement of the Federal Government and all State and Territory Governments.  All jurisdictions except Victoria and Tasmania will have a CDS operating by 2018 and it is hoped this will provide momentum for a national scheme.

Q. In what ways will schools, charities and community groups be able to leverage the CDS?

Not only is the Container Deposit Scheme good for reducing litter and for recovering valuable materials from the waste stream, a container deposit scheme also increases employment within the recycling industry, and brings other community benefits in the form of income generation.

Local schools, charities and community groups can arrange to collect empty cans, bottles and other beverage containers and use the refunds to buy sporting equipment, improve facilities, keep memberships affordable or for other initiatives simply to assist others.

Enterprising groups might partner with businesses and events or consolidate a community collection to achieve scale.

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We acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the ACT, the Ngunnawal people. We acknowledge and respect their continuing culture and the contribution they make to the life of this city and this region.