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A cash for drink containers scheme is coming

Using a cash reward for the return of drink cans, cartons, and bottles, Victoria’s container deposit scheme (CDS) will deliver:

  • 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.

It is a great opportunity for community groups, charities, and sporting clubs to raise extra funds. 

How it will work

Stages in a CDS: purchase drinks, return empty containers, container refunds, recycle containers.
  • Purchase of drinks - recycling cost is included in the price
  • Return of empty containers - to a variety of locations across Victoria, including shops, reverse vending machines, depots, pop-ups and drop-off points, run by recyclers, small business and charity, community and sports groups
  • Container refunds - ten-cent refund per container to person who returns it and/or charity, community and sports groups.
  • Recycle containers - reducing the need for new materials

The CDS will be run by a scheme coordinator and network operators. Like all Australian CDS, beverage suppliers will fund the scheme.  

The coordinator will:

  • manage the finances and commercial viability of the CDS
  • conduct audits of the scheme to prevent fraud
  • pay refund amounts and collection network costs to the network operators
  • report against performance targets set by the government.

The network operators will:

  • establish and maintain a network of refund points
  • distribute refund amounts to consumers
  • distribute payments to refund collection point operators
  • report on CDS participation and redemption rates.

The Victorian Government will use a competitive tender process to appoint the coordinator and operators.

The CDS gives charity, community, and sports groups new ways to raise funds

Here’s how:

Receive donations of refunds from others Initiate a collection drive Run a collection point

Victorians have helped shape our CDS

We want a CDS that maximises the return of used drink containers for recycling. We’ve consulted with Victorians and worked with industry to shape the design of our scheme.

From 2 – 30 November 2020 via Engage Victoria Victorians told us what they thought about the proposed scheme for our state.

Read the Consultation Report

More information

Frequently asked questions

  • A container deposit scheme (CDS) uses a cash incentive to encourage people to return used drink containers for recycling.

  • Drink containers make up almost half of Victoria’s litter.

    A cash reward for returning drink containers for recycling will help reduce this litter and its impacts on our local wildlife. It will reduce clean-up costs for councils and make producers more responsible for their products once used.

    The CDS will increase the recycling of drink cans, cartons, and bottles and reduce waste.

    The CDS will turn waste to value, providing a clean stream of materials for recycling and re-use.

  • A 10-cent refund is given for used drink containers – cans, cartons, and bottles 150ml to 3 litres in volume - when returned to a collection point for recycling.

    Containers returned are recycled which reduces litter and the need for new materials.

  • There will be many convenient and accessible locations across Victoria to return containers including shops, reverse vending machines, depots, pop-ups, and drop-off points. These will be run by recyclers, small business, and charity, community, and sports groups.

  • All Victorians from:

    • 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.

    Charity, community, and sports groups will have new ways to fundraise by:

    • collecting containers
    • registering to receive donations of refunds from others
    • initiating a collection drive, and
    • applying to run a refund collection point
  • Yes. They have similarities and differences in how they work. 

    State and start date of CDS Containers returned Number and types of places to return containers  Return points run by charity, community and sports groups
    South Australia - 1977 77% 126 (1 per 14,040 people): 100% waste management depots  15
    New South Wales - Dec 2017 68% 630 (1 per 12,959 people): 49% reverse vending machines, 43% over the counter at shops, 4% depots, 4% donation stations 145
    Queensland - Nov 2018 60% 307 (1 per 16,835 people): 43% depots, 39% bag drop-offs, 22% pop-up points, 5% reverse vending machines  19
    Western Australia - Oct 2020 Not applicable  214 (1 per 12,439 people): 43% depots, 30% bag drop-offs, 25% Pop-ups points, 2% reverse vending machines 78
    Tasmania - starting 2022
    Victoria - starting 2023

    Our scheme adopts key elements from other schemes to maximise the return of drink containers for recycling.

  • The scheme will be run by a coordinator and network operator/s, and like all Australian schemes, beverage suppliers will fund it. 

  • The Victorian Government will provide the scheme coordinator with a loan to cover the start-up costs. Beverage suppliers will pay costs in arrears.

  • The Victorian Government will introduce a CDS by 2023.

  • It takes time to make laws, appoint scheme participants, negotiate contracts, and establish collection points across the state, for easy access for Victorians.

    We’re allowing time for industry and businesses to adapt and making sure the CDS interacts effectively with Victoria’s kerbside recycling system. Planning will ensure Victoria’s CDS is successful.

Reviewed 15 April 2021

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