Container Deposits

In a significant win for local government, the Return and Earn container deposit scheme began operating on 1 December 2017.  This shifts the responsibility (both financial and physical) onto the producer and the consumer, rather than spreading the costs across all ratepayers.
The key characteristics of the scheme largely mirror those which LGNSW has advocated for over many years: 
  • 10-cent refund to consumers for returning a specially-marked drink container
  • Drink containers sized between 150ml and 3 litres will be eligible, with the scope largely mirroring that of the SA and NT schemes (excludes plain milk, wine and spirits)
  • Containers presented through kerbside systems will be redeemable, with Materials Recycling Facility (MRF) operators and local government expected to agree on sharing any refund
  • Collection points range from large-scale depots through to stand-alone reverse vending machines and pop-up sites
  • Beverage suppliers provide the 10 cent refund as well as the associated handling and administration fees
A single scheme coordinator, Exchange for Change, has been appointed by the Minister  to ensure the scheme meets access and recovery targets.  TOMRA Cleanaway is the network operator responsible for the network of collection points.
Under the NSW Container Deposit Scheme operators of Material Recovery Facilities (MRFs) could begin claiming a refund on containers they process for councils on 1 December 2017. MRFs can only continue to claim the refund after 1 December 2018 where:
  • The MFR and council have put a refund sharing agreement in place if there is no existing refund sharing agreement; or
  • The council notifies the EPA in writing that in the circumstances it is fair and reasonable if there is an existing refund-sharing agreement.
To assist councils access refunds collected via kerbside recycling, the NSW Government has developed a negotiation tool and companion report to help councils develop a negotiating position with the MRF.
LGNSW will continue its advocacy work in relation to transition arrangements for councils (kerbside collection and processing contracts), and informing councils of their options should they seek to be set up or be accredited as return depots.