Return and Earn


Liz Quinlan
Senior Policy Officer - Waste 

Phone: 02 9242 4095

In a major win for local government, the Return and Earn Container Deposit Scheme commenced on 1 December 2017.

Scheme details

Local Government NSW advocated for this type of scheme for many years. Key characteristics of the scheme include:

  • Most NSW beverage containers between 150 millilitres and 3 litres in volume are eligible for a 10c refund, largely mirroring the SA and NT schemes (excludes plain milk, wine and spirits).
  • Beverage suppliers (manufacturers, importers, wholesalers or retailers) that first supply eligible drink containers in NSW are responsible for funding refunds and associated Scheme costs.
  • Councils can receive a share of the refunds for containers collected in a council’s kerbside recycling system to benefit ratepayers if they have a Refund Sharing Agreement with their Material Recovery Facility (MRF). The agreement must be fair and reasonable and the MRF must submit claims for processing refunds from the Scheme Coordinator in line with the MRF Processing Refund Protocol.
  • MRFs can also claim refunds if the council they service has:
    • Notified the EPA that the council considers it’s fair and reasonable that there’s no refund sharing agreement in force; or
    • Have entered into a new processing agreement with the MRF operator after 1 December 2017.
  • A network of collection points are set up by the network operator TOMRA Cleanaway and range from large-scale depots through to stand-alone reverse vending machines and over the counter sites. TOMRA Cleanaway can contract to other organisations to collect on their behalf. This is also an opportunity for schools, sports clubs and community organisations to fundraise.

To assist councils negotiate with their MRF, the NSW Government developed a negotiation tool and report. Further information on the Scheme is available on EPA’s webpage and the Return and Earn webpage. LGNSW will continue to support member councils to negotiate with their MRF to the benefit of ratepayers and for an effective network of collection points for the community.