Victoria’s Container Deposit Scheme (CDS Vic) is an important part of the work that is transforming Victoria’s waste and recycling system.
CDS Vic increases the recycling of drink cans, bottles and cartons and reduces Victoria’s litter by up to half by offering a financial reward for returning drink containers for recycling. It lowers clean-up costs for councils and make producers more responsible for their products once used.
CDS Vic provides shared benefits to the community, environment, and economy by delivering:
- more and better recycling
- less waste – old containers become new ones
- less litter – cut by up to half
- hundreds of new jobs and economic opportunities across Victoria
- a cleaner, greener state.
Regulation and oversight
Recycling Victoria is responsible for the regulation, oversight, and administrative direction of CDS Vic. Its statutory role is defined in the Circular Economy (Waste Reduction and Recycling) Act 2021 (the CE Act) and Circular Economy (Waste Reduction and Recycling) (Container Deposit Scheme) Regulations 2022 (the Regulations).
Recycling Victoria’s responsibilities include:
- managing, monitoring, and ensuring compliance with Scheme Coordinator and Zone Operator agreements (which set out the contractual obligations of scheme participants to establish and operate CDS Vic)
- ensuring compliance with statutory provisions
- making decisions in relation to first suppliers and eligible containers
- publishing guidelines and issuing directions to scheme participants
- establishing branding and marketing guidelines for CDS Vic
- collecting information and providing advice to the Victorian Government
- establishing Material Recovery Facilities and Local Government Refund Sharing protocols
- taking action where compliance and other issues are identified.
Who will run CDS Vic?
CDS Vic operates on a shared responsibilities model, which separates administration and regulation aspects from operational tasks. The Scheme Coordinator, VicReturn, is responsible for managing the financial and administrative aspects and Return-it, TOMRA Cleanaway, and Visy are the Zone Operators and are responsible for establishing and maintaining a network of refund points. Recycling Victoria oversees and regulates the scheme.
VicReturn is the Scheme Coordinator, and is responsible for:
- managing the financial and administrative aspects of CDS Vic
- conducting audits of CDS Vic to prevent fraud
- paying refund amounts and collection network costs to the Zone Operators
- reporting against performance targets set by the government.
- establishing and maintain a network of refund points in their appointed zones
- distributing refund amounts to consumers
- distributing payments to refund point operators
- reporting on CDS participation and redemption rates.
The map below outlines which part of Victoria each Zone Operator is responsible for establishing and maintaining refund points.
Refund point operators
Refund point operators may include small businesses, community organisations, charities, sports clubs, and councils throughout Victoria. Zone Operators are responsible for sub-contracting to refund point operators.
How it works
- Participants purchase a drink.
- Participants return their empty drink container to one of over 600 planned refund points across Victoria.
- Participants receive a 10-cent refund for every suitable eligible container they return. Participants can choose to keep the funds or donate to a participating charity, community group, environmental group, educational organisation, or sports group.
- Returned containers are then given a new lease on life. The material is recycled and remanufactured into a new product, saving it from landfill or littering the environment.
There are many convenient and accessible locations across Victoria for participants to return empty drink containers. Community access and service standards ensure that participants can return their drink containers to a refund point that is convenient for them, regardless of where they are in Victoria.
There are a variety of ways to return drink containers, including:
- reverse vending machines
- over-the-counter collection points
- mobile or ‘pop-up’ refund collection points
CDS Vic targets drink containers that most commonly contribute to litter and are often consumed away from home. This includes plastic soft drink bottles, glass beer bottles, soft drinks and alcohol sold in cans, and small fruit juice cartons.
A complete list of eligible containers can be found in the Container Deposit Scheme Regulations.
As required under the Circular Economy (Waste Reduction and Recycling) Act 2021, people who supply, or intend to supply, an eligible container in Victoria must notify the Head, Recycling Victoria who will determine whether the person is, or will be, a first supplier of the eligible container for CDS Vic.
Recycling Victoria has developed formal instruments to determine first suppliers and the eligibility of drink containers for inclusion in CDS Vic:
Registering eligible drink containers
If you’re a business supplying drinks in eligible containers in Victoria, you’re required to participate in CDS Vic under the Circular Economy (Waste Reduction and Recycling) Act 2021.
For more information about first suppliers and registering eligible drink containers please visit the VicReturn website.
Material recovery facilities and local government refund sharing protocols
The Circular Economy (Waste Reduction and Recycling) Act 2021 provides for the Head, Recycling Victoria to issue protocols that enable material recovery facilities (MRFs) and local governments and Alpine Resorts Victoria to access a refund from CDS Vic in relation to the suitable eligible containers they collect and manage.
Local government refund sharing protocol
The purpose of the Local government refund sharing protocol is to ensure equitable and transparent sharing of refunds among contracted parties involved in providing municipal recycling services that collect, sort and separate suitable eligible containers. It provides a framework that promotes accountability and cooperation among the involved parties to determine and distribute refund amounts attributed to returned suitable eligible containers.
The Local government refund sharing protocol:
- defines the minimum share of any refund amount to which a local government and a MRF operator are entitled
- establishes the method for determining the minimum share of a refund amount, ensuring that this method is in accordance with any prescribed requirements
- serves as a condition of any contract between a local government and a MRF operator unless the contract specifically provides for the subject matter of the protocol
- allows for the variation or revocation of the protocol by the Head, Recycling Victoria at any time.
Material recovery facilities protocol
The material recovery facilities protocol establishes the terms for determining the refund amount from CDS Vic between the Scheme Coordinator and MRF operators with a Recovery agreement.
It provides a structured approach calculating the refund amount payable between parties and managing the financial implications, including approved incurred costs, which arise due to the implementation of CDS Vic.
The material recovery facilities protocol clarifies:
- material output types eligible for refund
- sampling and the Material recovery facilities protocol sampling plan
- refund amounts payable
- reporting and record keeping obligations necessary to make a valid claim
- audit and assurance requirements.
Scheme Payments and Contributions Methodology
The Scheme Payments and Contribution Methodology (SPCM) outlines the calculation, nature and timing of scheme payments made to and by the CDS Vic Scheme Coordinator.
The SPCM sets out the arrangements for first suppliers’ scheme contributions, export payments, network fees payable to Zone Operators, the service fee payable to Recycling Victoria, refund payments to material recovery facility operators and how financial penalties are charged and collected. The SPCM is approved by the Minister for Environment and may be updated from time to time.
Material sales for Victoria's Container Deposit Scheme
Visit our material sales for Victoria's Container Deposit Scheme page for information about how material collected through CDS Vic is sold to the recycling market.
CDS Vic provides charities, community groups, environmental organisations, sports groups, and educational organisations with new and easy ways to raise funds. Their options include:
- receiving donations from the community – Victorians can choose to pocket their refund or donate to a participating charity
- conducting a collection drive – receive containers from the community
- running a refund point as a business.
Consultation on regulation and oversight
Throughout the development of CDS Vic, we have consulted with the recycling industry, local government, Alpine Resorts Victoria, and the beverage industry to ensure CDS Vic will benefit all Victorians and maximise the return of drink containers for recycling.