Scheme objectives and operation
The container deposit scheme, Containers for Change, commenced on 1 October 2020.
Western Australians can now take their empty beverage containers to a Containers for Change refund point and receive 10 cents for every eligible container returned.
The scheme’s objectives are to:
- increase recovery and recycling of empty beverage containers
- reduce the number of empty beverage containers that are disposed of as litter or to landfill
- ensure that first responsible suppliers of beverage products take product stewardship responsibility
- provide opportunities for social enterprise and benefits for community organisations
- create opportunities for employment
- complement existing collection and recycling activities for recyclable waste.
Containers for Change is operated by WA Return Recycle Renew Ltd. (WARRRL) – an independent not-for-profit company responsible for establishing the collection network and operating the scheme under government oversight. WARRRL was appointed on 18 July 2019 as the scheme coordinator for Containers for Change subject to conditions of appointment.
Visit the WARRRL website for business participation information
and to register your interest in becoming a donation point.
Beverage containers covered by the scheme
The scheme targets beverage containers most commonly seen as litter. The types of beverage containers covered in the scheme include plastic and glass bottles, paper-board cartons, and steel and aluminium cans between 150 millilitres and 3 litres. Examples of eligible beverage containers in the scheme include:
- soft-drink cans and bottles
- bottled waters – both plastic and glass
- small flavoured-milk drinks
- beer and cider cans and bottles
- sports drinks and spirit-based mixed drinks.
A more detailed list of covered and excluded containers is available.
Monitoring beverage price changes
The Economic Regulation Authority is monitoring the prices of beverages sold in Western Australia before and after the commencement of the container deposit scheme.
This ensures that any increased beverage costs attributed to the scheme reflect the actual costs of the scheme. For more information visit www.erawa.com.au/containerdeposits.
If consumers believe that price increases are unreasonable, and retailers are claiming that the price increase is a result of the scheme’s introduction, this could be referred to Consumer Protection to investigate whether the Australian Consumer Laws of Western Australia are being complied with. If a business makes misleading claims about the reason for a particular price increase, the business may breach these laws.
Container Deposit Scheme Community Grants program
The Container Deposit Scheme Community Grants program was a State Government initiative administered by the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation to support projects that help deliver the objectives of the CDS.
Click here to view CDS Community Grants Program successful applicants.
Container Deposit Scheme Participant assistance package
The State Government released a financial assistance package of up to $3.55 million for eligible network participants.
The package supported collection network participants financially impacted by the deferral of the scheme because of COVID-19, to ensure the collection network remained viable until the scheme commenced. Successful applicants were announced in July 2020.
The container deposit scheme is established under Part 5A of the Waste Avoidance and Resource Recovery Act 2007 and the Waste Avoidance and Resource Recovery (Container Deposit Scheme) Regulations 2019.
Under the Waste Avoidance and Resource Recovery (Container Deposit Scheme) Regulations 2019, the CEO may prepare documents (protocols) that set out how certain container deposit scheme payments are determined.
The Recovery amount protocol is the method of calculating the quarterly amount payable to material recovery facility operators for eligible containers collected and recycled under material recovery agreements.
The Local government sharing protocol provides a default arrangement for ensuring that payments for container deposit scheme material collected from kerbsides are shared reasonably between material recovery facility operators processing kerbside material and the local governments from which the material originated.
The Export rebate protocol sets out the methodology to be applied in determining the amounts payable to exporters under the container deposit scheme.
The Bottle Crushing Material Recovery Facilities – Approved Methodology is the method of calculating the quarterly amount payable to bottle crushing service operators for eligible containers collected and recycled under material recovery (bottle crushing) agreements.
Minimum network standards
The Minimum network standards set minimum requirements for the location and distribution of container deposit scheme refund points and their hours of operation. The standards seek to balance the number of refund points (consumer convenience) with scheme costs. Links to the relevant documents are provided below:
The scheme coordinator is required to report performance data to the Minister and to the general public. The Reporting Code: Reporting requirements for the Coordinator specifies the information that the scheme coordinator is required to report in the annual report, the quarterly report and the monthly report, and on its website.
Regular reporting enables assessment of performance and achievement against the statutory objectives of the container deposit scheme and the statutory functions of the scheme coordinator under Part 3 Division 3 of the Waste Avoidance and Resource Recovery (Container Deposit Scheme) Regulations 2019.
First Responsible Suppliers
First Responsible Suppliers must ensure their eligible beverage containers have a valid container approval from the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation.
If the First Responsible Suppliers cannot find their products listed, application for a container approval should be made through WARRRL website.
Container approval process and procedure involved with the assessment as enacted in the Waste Avoidance and Resource Recovery Act 2007 and the Waste Avoidance and Resource Recovery (Container Deposit Scheme) Regulations.
A Guideline to assist First Responsible Supplier understand the application process is available here.
Refund mark and barcode requirements
Eligible containers must display the scheme refund mark. All states and territories with container deposit schemes (New South Wales, Queensland, the Australian Capital Territory, South Australia and the Northern Territory) have agreed to use the same refund mark.
The refund mark must state “10c refund at collection depots/points in participating State/Territory of purchase”. The refund mark must be displayed in a colour and size that ensure it is clear and legible. It is recommended that the numeral ‘10’ be a minimum of 3 mm in height with a minimum 3 mm ‘free space’ boundary around the refund mark.
Transitional arrangement for refund marks
There will be a 24-month transition period from the scheme’s start date, 1 October 2020, during which a first responsible supplier may legally supply beverages in containers that do not carry the refund mark. After the transition period all eligible containers sold in Western Australia must have a refund mark.
Eligible containers must contain a barcode from the start of the scheme to enable automatic recognition of eligible containers. Most containers already carry a barcode.
Baseline recycling audit
A baseline audit of eligible containers received at materials recovery facilities (MRF) from local government kerbside recycling collections was conducted before the scheme commenced. The baseline sampling will provide data to allow an assessment of the scheme’s effectiveness.
The CDS Baseline Audit Report provides further details.
Planning consideration for scheme infrastructure
The WA Planning Commission and Department of Planning, Lands and Heritage have prepared a Position Statement that sets out how container deposit scheme infrastructure should be considered and assessed in the Western Australian planning system. It also provides guidance to both proponents and decision-makers on the location and implementation of scheme infrastructure.
Regulatory impact assessment
The Decision regulation impact statement assessed the costs and benefits of the WA container deposit scheme. It found benefits of $1.29 for every $1 of costs. Over a 20-year period the scheme is projected to result in:
- 0.7 billion fewer beverage containers being littered
- 5.9 billion fewer beverage containers ending up in landfill
- 6.6 billion more beverage containers being recycled.
The Consultation regulation impact statement, which provided a preliminary assessment of the costs and benefits of the scheme was open for a four-week comment period from 13 August until 10 September 2018. Twelve submissions were received.
The Decision regulation impact statement amended the consultation regulation impact statement in the following ways:
- It considered relevant issues raised in submissions about the consultation regulation impact statement.
- It updated the assessment for progress in the design and development of the scheme that have taken place since the consultation regulation impact statement was released. (This includes expanded and refined scheme objectives and final minimum refund point numbers in the Minimum network standards: refund point locations and hours of operation.)
The Decision regulation impact statement has been considered by the WA Government’s Better Regulation Unit in line with the Regulatory Impact Assessment guidelines for Western Australia.
The Decision regulation impact statement has also been considered by the Australian Government’s Office of Best Practice Regulation as the container deposit scheme will require an exemption under the Mutual Recognition Act 1992 (Cwlth) and the Trans-Tasman Mutual Recognition Act 1997 (Cwlth).
- October launch date for WA's Container Deposit Scheme - 26 May 2020
- Start of Containers for Change deferred due to COVID-19 (31 March 2020)
- $200,000 in grants to help new container refund points (27 February 2020)
- First look at Containers for Change recycling network (16 January 2020)
- Regulations pave way for Container Deposit Scheme in June 2020 (17 December 2019)
- WA’s new container deposit scheme to launch on June 2, 2020 (18 July 2019)
- Planning guidance to help communities cash in on recycling (31 May 2019)
- Important milestones for WA's container deposit scheme (14 May 2019)
- State Budget balances environmental wins with job creation (9 May 2019)
- Bottles and cans stamped for refunds (15 April 2019)
- Bill passed to allow refunds for empty bottles and cans (13 March 2019)
- Tenders invited for Cash for Cans co-ordinator (30 November 2018)
- Container deposit scheme laws introduced to Parliament (30 November 2018)
Market research on customer preferences for refund point type
The report summarises market research the department commissioned to inform the introduction of the container deposit scheme with a particular focus on the type of refund point options which should be offered.
When did the scheme start?
The container deposit scheme commenced on 1 October 2020.
The original start date of the scheme was delayed in response to COVID-19 to protect public health and the financial viability of some scheme participants.
The scheme has been designed to provide opportunities for people with disability, older people and Aboriginal people. These community groups are generally more vulnerable and their involvement in the scheme may place them at greater risk of infection.
The scheme's postponement was in accordance with advice from the scheme coordinator. The State Government also responded to calls from community, local government and businesses for the scheme launch to be postponed.
Why does Western Australia need a container deposit scheme?
The container deposit scheme aims to reduce litter and improve recycling. Beverage containers account for 44 per cent of all litter by volume in WA (2017–18 National Litter Index).
South Australia, the Northern Territory, New South Wales, the Australian Capital Territory and Queensland have schemes in place. The states with longstanding schemes have the lowest volume of beverage container litter in Australia.
How does the scheme work in Western Australia?
Empty eligible beverage containers can be returned to Containers for Change refund points to receive a 10 cent refund. The scheme will operate statewide.
Where can I get more information?
Further information is available from the Containers for Change website www.containersforchange.com.au/wa/ or call centre 13 42 42.
What items are included?
The scheme aims to align with schemes in other Australian jurisdictions.
Beverage containers between 150 millilitres and 3 litres in volume eligible for the refund include:
- Soft-drink cans and bottles
- bottled waters – both plastic and glass
- small flavoured-milk drinks
- beer and cider cans and bottles
- sports drinks and spirit-based mixed drinks.
Containers that are not part of the scheme include:
- plain milk (or milk substitute) containers
- flavoured-milk containers of 1 litre or more
- pure fruit or vegetable juice containers of 1 litre or more
- glass containers for wine and spirits
- casks (plastic bladders in boxes) for wine and casks for water – 1 litre or more
- sachets for wine of 250 millilitres or more
- containers for cordials, concentrated fruit/vegetable juices
- registered health tonics.
A more detailed list of containers is available.
Why are milk containers and wine bottles not part of the scheme?
The scheme aligns the list of included containers with that in other states and territories to reduce consumer confusion and beverage supplier cost.
Where are refund points located?
A network of more than 200 refund points is open for business across WA. This will expand to a minimum of 229 refund points by 30 June 2021. Refund point locations, hours of operation and contact details are available on the Containers for Change website.
WA Return Recycle Renew Ltd is required to meet the Minimum network standards: Refund point locations and hours of operation. The consultation summary provides further information and indicative locations for refund points.
Will I have to pay more for drinks which are eligible under the scheme?
The cost of cans and bottles may increase to reflect the refund and scheme costs. The costs that WA Return Recycle Renew Ltd charges first responsible suppliers for each container sold can be found under First Responsible Suppliers on this web page.
In New South Wales, the price of all eligible container beverages increased by an average of 7.7 cents per container due to the CDS and a similar change in price is expected to occur in Western Australia. The Economic Regulation Authority has been commissioned to monitor beverage prices before and after the scheme commences to measure any price changes.
What happens to the containers redeemed at refund points?
Containers returned to refund points will be sorted into material type (glass, aluminium, PET plastic or HDPE plastic etc). The sorted containers will then be sent for further processing and delivered to a final recycling destination.
How can I be sure that the containers are recycled?
Western Australian legislation prohibits refunded beverage containers from being sent to landfill or incinerated.
Should I continue recycling at home?
Yes. Recycling, whether through the scheme or at home, benefits the environment. Recycling of beverage containers placed in yellow-top bins will continue after the scheme starts.
Reducing our waste and improving our recycling is important. The latest national waste data (2016–17) shows that Western Australians on average sent 0.92 tonnes of waste to landfill per capita, which is the fourth highest rate in the country.
How many jobs will be created?
Containers for Change has created over 600 jobs across the state operating the collection network, processing and transport.
Recycling has positive economic benefits and creates more jobs than sending waste to landfill. Every 10,000 tonnes of waste recycled creates 9.2 full-time jobs compared with 2.8 jobs when the same amount of waste is sent to landfill.
What compels beverage companies to use the refund mark?
It is an offence to supply a beverage in an eligible container unless the first responsible supplier has a supply agreement with the scheme coordinator (to pay collection costs), the container has been approved (to ensure it can be recycled) and the container bears the refund mark (to enable consumers to identify eligible containers).
Will WA introduce a transition period for refund mark labels?
Yes. There will be a 24-month transition period from the scheme's starting date during which a first responsible supplier will be allowed to supply beverages in containers that do not carry the refund mark.
This will allow suppliers to use up stock with a long shelf life and container labels they have already printed. After the transition period, it will be unlawful for the supplier to supply an eligible container without a refund mark.
Will WA use the same refund mark used elsewhere in Australia?
Yes. All states and territories with container deposit schemes (New South Wales, Queensland, the Australian Capital Territory, South Australia and the Northern Territory) have agreed to use the same refund mark.
The refund mark must state “10c refund at collection depots/points in participating State/Territory of purchase”.
The refund mark must be displayed in a colour and size that ensure it is clear and legible. It is recommended that the numeral ‘10’ be a minimum of 3 mm in height with a minimum 3 mm ‘free space’ boundary around the refund mark.
There will be a transition period in WA allowing a first responsible supplier to supply a container without an eligible refund mark for 24 months after the scheme begins.
What else is the Government doing to reduce waste and litter?
The State Government is committed to reducing waste and litter across all waste streams. The Government has banned lightweight plastic bags and is working towards reducing single-use plastic items. These programs and the container deposit scheme complement the Waste Avoidance and Resource Recovery Strategy 2030 and the Litter Prevention Strategy for Western Australia 2015–2020.
The Government funds litter prevention programs, including community engagement and school education, data collection and enforcement. The Government also funds the Community and Industry Engagement program to support projects that contribute to the Waste Avoidance and Resource Recovery Strategy 2030, and the Waste Wise Schools program, which includes grants for waste minimisation projects.
Scheme start date 1 October 2020
Further information is available in the FAQs. Information specific to refund point operators and beverage suppliers is available from WA Return Recycle Renew Ltd (WARRRL), who has been appointed scheme coordinator for Containers for Change.
The information on both web pages will be updated as further information becomes available.
For regulatory queries
Department of Water and Environmental Regulation
Phone: 08 6364 7222
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