Strong take-up as NSW launches container deposit scheme

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The NSW government launched its ‘Return and Earn’ container deposit scheme (CDS) across the state this week, attracting strong participation.

Within three days of launching, more than 500,000 beverage containers were returned to Return and Earn reverse-vending machines across NSW.

Environment Minister Gabrielle Upton says the scheme is off to a great start and participation has exceeded expectations.

“The number of returned containers will soar when the over-the-counter returns are added to the count,” she said. “This is just the start. The rollout of collection points will keep going and the number of returns will keep rising.”

People returning eligible drink containers at reverse-vending machines can opt for an electronic transfer using PayPal, a cash refund or an in-store credit at a local retail partner, with the further option of donating to selected charities.

Charities, community and sporting groups, schools and other not-for-profit organisations can register their interest to become a donation partner under the rotation system.

Cancer Council, St Vincent de Paul, Surf Life Saving NSW and Planet Ark were the first charities featured on reverse-vending machines during the scheme’s launch.

The collection-point network includes the reverse-vending machines, over-the-counter sites such as petrol stations and cafes, and automated depots for high volumes of returns.

There are more than 250 collection points across NSW, with more to come as the scheme continues to roll out.

“Almost 50 per cent of litter by volume is made up of drink containers,” Ms Upton said. “Return and Earn will capture 43 per cent of this litter.”

However, beverage companies have noted that consumers will probably face price increases to cover mandatory costs, such as 10¢ deposits, as well as handling, administration and scheme-compliance costs.

Coca-Cola Amatil (CCA) says it is implementing an additional charge arising from the scheme in its pricing of all affected products, while aiming to keep costs as low as possible for customers.

“It is not our preference to increase prices,” a CCA press release stated. “However, it is important that our customers understand these additional charges arising from the CDS are a direct consequence of NSW government policy.”