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Environment Protection Authority

Environmental Issues

Waste and recycling

What is a container deposit scheme?

Container deposit scheme

A refund container deposit scheme (the Scheme) will commence across NSW in December 2017. Container litter currently makes up 44% of all litter in the State and costs more than $162 million to manage. The Scheme will be the largest litter reduction scheme introduced by the State, and will help meet the Premier's goal of reducing the volume of litter in NSW by 40% by 2020. A network of collection points and Reverse Vending Machines will open across NSW to receive the empty containers. An interactive map of collection points across the state will be available towards the end of 2017.

Under the Scheme, most empty 150 millilitre to 3 litre beverage containers will be eligible for a 10c refund when presented to an approved NSW collection depot or reverse vending machine. Container materials that may be eligible for a refund include:

  • PET
  • HDPE
  • glass
  • aluminium
  • steel
  • liquid paperboard.

Some containers will not be eligible for a refund. They are described below.

Scheme exceptions

Containers that are not included in the scheme and, therefore, do not qualify for a refund are:

  • plain milk (or milk substitute) containers
  • 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 250 millilitres or more
  • containers for cordials, concentrated fruit/vegetable juices
  • registered health tonics.

These exceptions are similar to the exceptions in the South Australian and Northern Territory container deposit schemes, to aid consistency.

Features of the Scheme

  • Most NSW beverage containers between 150 millilitres and 3 litres in volume will be eligible for a refund with some exceptions (see Scheme exceptions). Beverage suppliers (manufacturers, importers, wholesalers or retailers) that bring eligible containers into NSW will be responsible for funding the refund as well as associated costs.
  • Collection points will be rolled out across the State, including priority collection areas in metropolitan and regional locations. Collection points may comprise Reverse Vending Machines, local shops, depot sites and existing recycling centres, or a combination of all.
  • It is proposed that the Scheme will be delivered through a two-part structure:
    • a single Scheme Coordinator will be responsible for the financial management of the scheme, and for ensuring that the scheme meets its state-wide access and recovery targets.
    • network operators will set up and run a state-wide network of collection points. They can build and operate these collection points themselves, or they can contract for other organisations to collect on their behalf.
  • The Minister for the Environment will appoint the Scheme Coordinator and Network Operators through a competitive selection process.
  • The State has been divided into seven zones, and the Network Operator will be responsible for meeting collection targets within their zone.
  • Collection points will be established in each zone, which will accept and refund eligible containers presented by users of the Scheme.
  • Eligible containers in kerbside recycling will also be redeemable. The Scheme will allow material recovery facilities (MRFs) to use an EPA approved method for accurately estimating the number of containers recovered in the facility and to claim the refund from the Scheme Coordinator. Under this proposed approach, the MRF would only receive the refund amount. They would not be able to claim a handling fee, but they would also not need to separate out containers or substantially change their existing recovery processes.
Page last updated: 21 July 2017