How WA's container deposit scheme will work

You might have heard that WA is getting its own container deposit scheme in 2020.

From Tuesday 2 June, eligible containers will earn you a 10 cent refund if they are returned to one of more than 170 refund points around the state.

This article shares what we know about the scheme right now, and what we can expect to learn closer to its launch.

line up of various beverage containers

Got questions? We’ve got answers!

Q. What is a container deposit scheme?

A container deposit scheme is a program designed to help divert recyclable waste from landfill and reduce litter.

A small deposit is added to the purchase price of many types of beverages, with a refund given later when the empty container is returned to a dedicated collection point.

This type of scheme is used in countries all around the world.

WA’s container deposit scheme will be known as the Containers for Change program.

Q. WHY DO WE NEED a container deposit scheme?

Over the next 20 years, Containers for Change is expected to result in:

  • 706 million fewer containers being littered
  • 6 billion fewer containers sent to landfill
  • 9 billion more containers being recycled

The scheme is also expected to create 500 jobs across the State and provide opportunities for social enterprises.

WHICH containers will be eligible for a refund?

Containers for Change will focus on drinks consumed away from the home, because it is these containers that most commonly end up as litter, or are thrown away, rather than recycled.

Close up of empty drink cans

Refunds will be available on beverage containers most likely to be consumed outside of the home – such as cans, plastic bottles, small milk cartons and glass bottles.

Most plastic, glass, aluminium, steel and cardboard-based containers between 150ml and 3L will be eligible for the refund.

Examples of eligible containers

Soft drink cans and bottles (up to 3 litres)

Plastic and glass water bottles (up to 1 litre)

Milk cartons and bottles, including flavoured varieties (less than 1 litre)

Beer, cider bottles and cans (up to 3 litres)

Spirit-based pre-mix bottles (up to 3 litres)

Containers such as wine, spirit, cordial and plain milk bottles and cartons will not be eligible for a refund under the scheme.

Check out the full list of what containers are and aren’t covered.

Why Won’t I get refunds on plain milk bottles/cartons, wine/spirit bottles or cordial bottles?

This program is about reducing the volume of containers being littered. As plain milk, cordial, wine and spirits are generally consumed at home (and easily recycled through your yellow-top bin), they generally do not present a littering issue, so aren’t part of the scheme.

How will I know what items are eligible for a refund?

Within two years of the scheme commencing, all eligible containers will have a refund mark on their labels. So if there’s no refund mark, it’s not an eligible container.

Close up of label printed on a drink can

By mid 2022 all containers including within the Containers For Change program will include a 10c refund message.

Where will the collection points be?

When the program launches, there will be more than 170 refund points open for business, however the locations of these collection points are still to be finalised.

By the end of the scheme’s first year, 229 refund points will be operational.

Businesses and organisations operating any of the refund points will have to meet minimum network standards.

WHAT WILL the COLLECTION POINTS LOOK LIKE?

The collection points will take a variety of shapes and forms, including:

  • over-the-counter depots giving on-the-spot refunds (generally located within existing retail and commercial areas)
  • 'drop and go' facilities with refunds deposited into customers' bank accounts
  • mobile refund depots
  • drive-up refund points for bulk deposits
  • reverse vending machines that will accept and scan eligible containers and issue refunds(these will be un-attended and generally located at shopping centres, train stations or other public places).
Close up of hand depositing an empty drink container into a machine

WA will have more collection points per head of population than any other Australian state or territory. Reverse vending machines are likely to become a popular way to claim a refund.

Where will the containers go after they are collected?

After you return your containers, they will be sorted into material type (glass, aluminium, PET plastic or HDPE plastic). The sorted containers will then be sent to a recycler for processing and/or recycling, or delivered to a final recycling destination.

Refund point operators will need to provide evidence that they have forwarded the containers to a recycler. WA legislation intends to prohibit refunded containers from being sent to landfill.

Can the program be used as a fundraiser?

Absolutely!  This scheme is a great way for schools, community groups, charities, sports clubs, scout troops and others to raise much-needed funds.

Organisations may choose to set up a collection cage where eligible containers can be dropped off, and then collect the deposit when they are returned for recycling.

WA Return Recycle Renew Ltd (WARRRL) is accepting registrations/expressions of interest from organisations wishing to become refund point operators. You can find more information about the Containers for Change program, as well as about any upcoming information sessions by visiting the website.

How much will I get back?

The refund is 10 cents per eligible container.

Close up of ten cent coins

A small deposit (10c) will be paid on each container included in the scheme at the time of purchase.

How will I get the money back?

The way a refund is received depends on what type of drop-off facility is used.

If you drop containers at a cage, you won’t get a refund, the organisation hosting the cage will get it.

If you take your containers to an over-the-counter refund point, you’ll get an on-the-spot refund.

Use a drop-and-go facility and the refund will be deposited into your nominated bank account once your containers are counted.

Deposit your containers at a reverse vending machine and you’ll likely get cash back, a refund via EFT, a voucher to the value of your deposit or choose to donate to a charity.

WILL the CONTAINER deposit scheme cost me money?

A 10 cent increase on the purchase price of eligible items is expected, as the cost of running the scheme will be passed on to beverage companies. But that money can be claimed back when the container is deposited.

WHEN will WA’s CONTAINER DEPOSIT SCHEME START?  

The Containers for Change program launches on 2 June 2020, following the WA Day long weekend.

Graphic with the date 2 June 2020

Refunds on eligible beverage containers will be available in Western Australia from June 2020.

WA will have more collection points per head of population than any other Australian state or territory. Reverse vending machines are likely to become a popular way to claim a refund.


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