Healthy Environment, Healthy Community, Healthy Business

Environment Protection Authority

Environmental Issues

Waste and recycling

How will the Scheme work?

Once the Scheme is operational, consumers can present an eligible beverage container to a collection point or Reverse Vending Machine (RVM) and be paid 10c per container.

All suppliers of eligible beverage containers in NSW will be required to fund the costs of the scheme.

Beverage suppliers' obligations under the scheme are found in the Waste Avoidance and Resource Recovery Amendment (Container Deposit Scheme) Act 2016 and the regulation (PDF 271KB).

Suppliers of eligible beverage containers must register their containers with the EPA before the Scheme starts. Beverages in containers that have not been registered must not be supplied. Penalties apply where unregistered beverages are in supply.

Eligible containers will be required to bear a refund mark alerting consumers to their potential refund. Suppliers will have 24 months from the date the refund mark is published in Regulations to ensure all their eligible containers bear the regulated mark.

Refund mark and payment methods

The Minister for the Environment is responsible for approving the refund mark that will be required to go on all eligible bottles following the Scheme's commencement.

While the Scheme will require refund marking requirements for all eligible beverage containers, the government will delay the commencement of these requirements by 24 months to enable beverage suppliers to run through their existing stock. This 24 month transition will start from when the refund marking is published in the Regulation. After the transition period has expired, all eligible containers must bear the refund mark.

Eligibility of bottles and cans purchased before the Scheme commencement is being determined. There is likely to be a transitional period when the scheme starts where which gives some flexibility for containers purchased before 1 December 2017. The refund marking is yet to be finalised.

Why is the Scheme proposed for NSW?

About 160 million drink containers were littered in NSW in 2014–15. This represents about 44% of the volume of all litter in NSW. Drink containers make up the largest proportion of litter volume in NSW, twice as much as the next largest proportion, which is take-away cups and food containers.

Litter can have serious impacts, including:

  • Environmental – litter damages natural environments and harms terrestrial and marine wildlife.
  • Visual – litter makes places look unsightly and uncared for, and attracts more litter.
  • Human – litter like broken glass and syringes can injure people. The presence of litter makes it more likely that other antisocial behaviours will occur, like graffiti and property damage
  • Resource – easily recyclable and valuable resources, like drink containers, are lost when people litter. Even if littered items are subsequently collected, they are often too contaminated to be recycled.
  • Economic – a 2015 survey of local government, state agencies, private land managers and community groups found that more than $162 million a year is currently being spent on managing litter in NSW. That is money that could be spent on other things.
  • Social research undertaken by the Government in November 2016 found that 79% of respondents across the State are in favour of the scheme.
  • The Queensland and Australian Capital Territory governments have announced they will introduce similar schemes in 2018.

Litter facts

  1. On average 7 litres of litter was dumped on NSW roads and highways in 2016. Beverage containers that would be eligible for a refund under the Scheme made up 45% of that litter.
  2. In 2015, Clean Up Australia Day volunteers removed 6351.4 tonnes of rubbish from parks, water ways, beaches and bushland. This was up from 5962 tonnes in in 2014. Beverage containers represented 36% of litter collected from those locations
  3. 65% of NSW consumers drink an average of 5.4 beverages outside of the home each week. Of those, 70% of the containers are not brought home to recycle.
  4. Greenhouse gas emissions from landfill in NSW accounts for 3.4Mt of carbon dioxide, representing 3% of Australia's greenhouse gas emissions.
  5. Refilling keep bottles at a Sydney Water refill station located near a skate park in Liverpool, NSW resulted in 13,616 x 500ml refills, saving 11,347 plastic bottles from entering landfill in May 2017.

What is the NSW Government doing about litter?

In September 2015, the NSW Government committed to reducing the volume of litter in NSW by 40% by 2020. The Scheme will complement the broad suite of litter reduction initiatives that are already under way as part of the $465.7 million Waste Less, Recycle More initiative, in which the Government has dedicated $20 million over five years to tackle litter.

Visit the pages below for more information about these initiatives.

Page last updated: 31 May 2017