Review of SA Container Deposit Scheme
Public consultation for this review is now closed.
A summary of the responses is now available: Consultation summary report.
South Australia’s Container Deposit Scheme (CDS) has led the way for 45 years and is recognised as one of the most effective in the world in relation to community participation, beverage return rates and the very high quality of material that is recovered.
More than 600 million beverage containers (more than 40,000 tonnes) are returned by South Australians for refund and recycling each year resulting in one of the most effective CDS systems in the world, with beverage containers accounting for less than 3% of litter items in SA.
What's being decided
Modernising South Australia’s container deposit scheme could deliver 80 million more beverage containers per year for recycling, generate an additional $76 million net benefit for the community and create 120 new jobs.
A CDS review showed South Australia can increase the recovery and recycling of beverage containers to boost the local remanufacturing industry and maintain SA’s leadership in this iconic and much loved scheme.
Proposed 2-staged approach to strengthen CDS
The first stage focuses on introducing needed digital reforms and improving how the scheme is managed and governed. This approach enables better service experience for the community, making it easier for non-profit organisations and smaller recycling depots to participate, and reducing costs for beverage producers, suppliers and recycling depots, with draft legislative changes to be progressed as soon as practicable after consultation. These changes will aim to improve the service experience for the community, reduce barriers to participation as well making the system more efficient for all business operators.
The second stage will consider opportunities to expand the scope of containers in the scheme and streamline labelling and approval requirements in alignment with other states and territories, to create simpler and stronger recovery of beverage containers in South Australia.
The review of the CDS began In January 2019, with the release of the scoping paper for public consultation.
During the 6-week consultation, the EPA received over 1,170 responses from members of the public, CDS stakeholders, environment and community groups, the beverage manufacturing and supply sector, the resource recovery and recycling sector and the government sector.
Feedback from this past consultation has identified a number of opportunities and helped inform the discussion paper Improving South Australia’s Recycling Makes Cents.
Based on investigations on beverage container material flows (including ultimate fate of containers) and economic analysis, the discussion paper is structured around the following key issues:
- objectives of the CDS including recovery and recycling of container materials within domestic circular economies
- scope of containers included in the CDS
- scheme approvals (including container application fees) and container markings
- CDS container return rates, including deposit value, container return and payment of the refund
- governance of the CDS and its relationship to schemes in other jurisdictions.
2021 Discussion paper consultation
The community and industry was invited to provide feedback on the changes that should be made to the container deposit scheme in South Australia.
The consultation was open from Saturday, 25 September until Friday 19 November 2021, with feedback able to be provided via our YourSay website, email and post.
The EPA received 250 submissions from the public, stakeholders, environment and community groups, industry and government and a summary of these responses is now available: Consultation summary report.
Your feedback will help us improve the CDS which will result in better outcomes for the community, for the CDS industry and for remanufacturing jobs in SA.
We will consider your feedback and continue to work with key stakeholders, to determine legislative changes that should be made to the South Australia Container Deposit Scheme.
What is the Container Deposit Scheme (CDS)?
The SA Container Deposit Scheme (CDS) is one of the longest running and successful product stewardship schemes in Australia, with container deposit legislation being first introduced in SA in 1977 as a litter control measure and is now also used to incentivise resource recovery and recycling.
The scheme was introduced to address significant volumes of beverage containers in the litter stream and broadly coincided with the introduction of non-refillable beverage containers such as cans and then later, plastic soft drink bottles.
Each year over 600 million container deposit scheme (CDS) beverage containers (over 40,000 tonnes) are returned by South Australians for refund and recycling.
Why is the CDS being reviewed?
The SA container deposit scheme has led the way for over 45 years but now needs modernising given that much has changed since the commencement of the scheme.
Now it is time to strengthen the container deposit scheme to incorporate modern technology, establish transparent reporting systems, and apply circular economy objectives to make more high-value glass and plastic beverage container materials available for remanufacturing in SA and nationally.
What are the benefits of modernising the CDS?
The discussion paper presents a number of options and opportunities to modernise the CDS that will:
- Increase the circulation of beverage containers through resource recovery to support a strong market for recycling recovered containers
- Incentivise the SA community to return CDS containers and access the refund;
- address the disproportionate impacts of the CDS on small to medium beverage producers and suppliers
- improve the efficiency of the container deposit scheme and reduce scheme costs
- divert beverage containers away from the kerbside waste system to the CDS, reducing the waste management costs of local government and increasing the recovery of high value beverage container materials that contribute to South Australia’s circular economy.
What previous consultation occured?
In January 2019, the Minister for Environment and Water, the Hon David Spiers MP, announced a review of South Australia’s Container Deposit Scheme (CDS) and released the scoping paper for public consultation.
During the 6-week consultation, the EPA received over 1,170 responses from members of the public, CDS stakeholders, environment and community groups, the beverage manufacturing and supply sector, the resource recovery and recycling sector and the government sector. A summary report of responses was released in August 2019.
The EPA Board hosted a CDS Summit in May 2019 where key issues relating to the governance of the CDS were explored with local government, NGO’s, collection depots, super collectors, retailers and producers.
A CDS Review Reference Group was established and has met 4 times, in addition to many meetings with individual stakeholders.
What is a circular economy?
A circular economy is a self-sustaining system which aims to keep materials in use, or ‘circulating’, for as long as possible. It extracts the maximum value from materials while in use, then recovers and reuses them in other forms.
For example, returning beverage containers to collection points where they are sorted into material types such as glass, plastic and aluminium and then sold into a market for recycling. The remanufactured product then extends the life of the beverage container material.
- Economic review analysis final report, December 2020
- Economic review analysis addendum, January 2021
- Kerbside household bin audit report, June 2020
- Collection depot consultations & licensed establishment survey report, June 2020
- Council survey report, July 2021