Healthy Environment, Healthy Community, Healthy Business

Environment Protection Authority

Environmental Issues

Waste and recycling

Legislation and consultation

Return and Earn, the NSW container deposit scheme, will be regulated by the NSW EPA under certain laws and policies.

Waste Avoidance and Resource Recovery Act 2001

On 19 October, Part 5 of the Waste Avoidance and Resource Recovery Act 2001 was made under the Waste Avoidance and Resource Recovery Amendment (Container Deposit Scheme) Act 2016 by the NSW Parliament.  Part 5:

  • recognises the responsibility the beverage industry shares with the community for reducing and dealing with waste
  • establishes a cost effective statewide container deposit scheme to assist the beverage industry discharge their responsibility to recycle empty beverage containers.

The Waste Avoidance and Resource Recovery (Container Deposit Scheme) Regulation 2017

The Waste Avoidance and Resource Recovery (Container Deposit Scheme) Regulation 2017 prescribes some of the operational details for the day-to-day running of Return and Earn such as:

  • the scope of beverages covered by the scheme and the refund amount
  • applications and approval requirements for collection point arrangements.
  • performance targets for the establishment and operation of collection points
  • matters for determining whether scheme participants are fit and proper persons
  • how material recycling facilities may claim refunds on containers collected through the kerbside recycling system, and incentives for councils and facilities to negotiate sharing of those refunds
  • reporting obligations of the Scheme Coordinator.

Further provisions on matters such as coverage targets, obligations relating to the supply and collection of containers, and refund markings, will be added to the Regulation later in the year as Return and Earn is further implemented.

Material Recovery Facility (MRF) Processing Refund Protocol

Under section 28 of the Waste Avoidance and Resource Recovery Act 2001, the Scheme Coordinator is required to pay processing refunds to MRF operators for the containers they collect. A protocol (PDF 1.23MB) has been developed which sets out the methodology to be applied in determining the amounts payable to MRF operators as processing refunds. The protocol also outlines the form and manner in which a claim for payment must be lodged.

Earlier NSW container deposit scheme discussion paper and consultation

The NSW Government released an earlier container deposit scheme discussion paper on 19 December 2015 and sought comments by 26 February 2016. More than 11,000 submissions were received. Of those, more than 98% were in favour of a refund based scheme. Following assessment of those submissions the NSW Government refined the model it would use to help combat litter through refunding container waste.

Following assessment and consideration of public input the NSW Government introduced a Bill to Parliament to create the Scheme. The Scheme's Act (Waste Avoidance and Resource Recovery Amendment (Container Deposit Scheme) Act 2016) passed on 19 October 2016. The Act forms part of the legislative framework under which the Scheme will operate. Regulations that will sit under this Act to support the day-to-day operation of the Scheme were open for consultation from 30 November to 23 December 2016. In total, the EPA received 12 community submissions and 40 stakeholder submissions. Following consideration of those submissions the Regulation was published in March 2017.  

More information

More information about Return and Earn

NSW laws and the Commonwealth and NSW mutual recognition laws

Page last updated: 18 August 2017