Northern Territory container deposit scheme
The Northern Territory is the only other jurisdiction in Australia that has implemented a container deposit scheme. Called Cash For Containers, it commenced on 3 January 2012.
With the aim of reducing beverage container litter, increasing resource recovery and contributing to a 50 per cent reduction in waste going to landfill, in a very short time the new scheme has proven to be very popular with the community. For the financial reporting period ending June 2012 (ie a six-month period since its introduction), almost 19 million containers were returned for refund and recycling and diverted from landfill. This represented an overall return rate for the first six months of 28.6% and $1.9million paid back into the community.
The South Australian and Northern Territory schemes work independently of each other. The 10cent refund can only be redeemed in the state/territory where you purchased the product. However, the South Australian and the Northern Territory Governments signed an Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA) to promote coordination and consistency between the container deposit schemes of both jurisdictions. This IGA ensures that the refund amount is the same for both schemes and the types of containers covered are the same.
Industry challenge in the Federal Court
In March 2013, the Federal Court of Australia found in favour of Coca-Cola, Lion and Schweppes that the Northern Territory’s container deposit scheme was invalid and in breach of the Mutual Recognition Act 1992 (MR Act)
The MR Act has the stated purpose of 'promoting the goal of freedom of movement of goods and service providers in a national market in Australia'. The MR Act essentially enables free trade between the states and territories.
When the NT scheme commenced in January 2012, it was granted a temporary exemption from the MR Act. This enabled the scheme to operate for a period of 12 months. The temporary exemption expired before a permanent one could be secured, subsequently the beverage industry took advantage of that window and challenged the validity of the scheme and won.
The Northern Territory government funded the payment of refunds to consumers with no financial input from the beverage industry for 4 months before being granted a permanent exemption from the MR Act..
South Australia has permanent exemption from the MRA as its container deposit scheme was in place prior to the Act being implemented.
Is there a future for cash for containers (video)? - transcript only.
New South Wales container deposit scheme
In February 2015, the New South Wales Government announced its commitment to introduce a cost-effective container deposit scheme (CDS). On 8 May 2016 after extensive community and industry consultation it confirmed a CDS would commence in NSW.
The scheme started on 1 December 2017. Most beverage containers between 150 ml and 3 litres will able to be returned for a 10-cent refund. A network of depots and reverse vending machines will open across NSW to receive the empty containers.
Queensland's container refund scheme
Following a feasibility investigation, the Queensland Government commenced a container refund scheme on 1 November 2018, to tackle litter and plastic pollution and improve recycling.
For more information go to the QLD EPA website
ACT container deposit scheme
The ACT container deposit scheme (CDS) commenced 30 June 2018. Consumers are now able to return eligible beverage containers to designated drop-off points and receive a 10 cent refund for each container.
For more information go to ACT CDS.
WA container deposit scheme
The Western Australian Government has committed to implementing a container deposit scheme in 2020. Further details will be available at the Department of Environment and Environmental Regulation website.
The online container deposit discussion
Media articles and reports
- Story Hunters (26 October 2016)
- Cash for Containers goes beyond politics – Boomerang Alliance (16 April 2016)
- Australian Greens
- Cash For Containers Scheme makes Cents – My Daily News
- Container Savers
- CDL prosecution in 2013
- Keep Australia Beautiful and Coca-Cola crush container deposit schemes – ABC 7.30
- Reportage Online
- Plastic Oceans (Catalyst video)
- Future of Cash for Containers – ABC News online, transcript only
- Bring Back Refund - Otago Daily Times (15 Dec 2014)
- The decades-old fight for cash-for-cans ABC Environment (20 Aug 2012)
- Australian Marine Conservation Society
- Boomerang Alliance
- Cash for Containers
- Clean Up Australia
- Environment Victoria
- Kicking the Can
- Tangaroa Blue Foundation
Container Deposits in NSW
General recycling information
- KESAB (Keep South Australia Beautiful)
- Northern Territory Container Deposits
- Recyclers of South Australia (RSA)
- Independent Review of Container Deposit Legislation in New South Wales
- KESAB video about container deposit scheme
- Local Government NSW
- Plastic Oceans (Catalyst video)
- Refund for Recycling NSW
- Sydney's new reverse vending machines