Material recovery facility operator

Material recovery facilities are an important part of the Return and Earn container deposit scheme. MRF operators are able to claim processing refunds from the container deposit scheme Scheme Coordinator quarterly, as follows.

Become a MRF operator: contact the scheme coordinator, Exchange for Change (EfC). EfC is contracted by the government to deliver key parts of the scheme.

Eligibility to claim: MRF operators must first confirm eligibility with Exchange for Change a minimum of 28 calendar days before the month in which they wish to first claim. MRF operators must also have an agreement with the local councils it collects material from, so that local councils have an opportunity to share in the refunds.

Material Recovery Facility Processing Refund Protocol

The Protocol sets out:

  • how Exchange for Change determines amounts payable to material recovery facility (MRF) operators
  • the process MRF operators must use to claim and receive processing refunds

Exchange for Change pays processing refunds to MRF operators for containers they collect when requirements of the Waste Avoidance and Resource Recovery Act 2001, Regulation and MRF Protocol are complied with.

The methodology for determining the amounts payable is set out in the Protocol (PDF 1.2MB).

The Protocol does not apply to MRF operators that are a bottle crushing service operator or an alternative waste treatment (AWT) plant operator. Bottle crushing service operators should refer to the Bottle Crushing Service Operator Processing Refund Protocol (PDF ).

The current MRF Protocol was gazetted on 1 April 2022.

Roles and responsibilities

Under the Protocol, the EPA’s key responsibilities are to:

  • develop, review and publish the Protocol
  • develop, review and update the approved form for MRF operators to make a quarterly processing refund claim
  • develop and publish the Sampling Strategy
  • determine and publish the eligible container factors for output material types
  • assess and approve or refuse MRF operators that do not hold a relevant environment protection licence under the Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997 
  • assess and approve or refuse eligible container factor applications
  • monitor and enforce compliance with the Act, Regulation and Protocol.

Under the Protocol, the Scheme Coordinator’s key responsibilities are to:

  • interpret and apply the Protocol to determine the refund payable to MRF operators
  • establish and maintain a system for MRF operators to submit information and apply for processing refunds
  • assess and approve or refuse MRF operator requests to use measuring equipment other than a weighbridge
  • assess and approve or refuse MRF operator requests to use an alternative method of separating Non-Claimable Material
  • assess and approve or refuse processing refund claims made by MRF operators against the requirements of the Act, Regulation and the Protocol
  • make adjustments to claims based on the requirements in the Act, Regulation and Protocol and any non-compliance
  • pay refund amounts for approved claims
  • reconcile payments of processing refunds
  • receive and review monthly, quarterly and annual reports from MRF operators
  • appoint independent auditors to conduct sampling to allow the EPA to calculate the eligible container factor
  • develop and implement an audit plan for auditing MRF operators and oversee assurance activities to ensure MRF operators comply with the Protocol
  • assess and approve Inter-MRF Transfers
  • follow the dispute resolution process prescribed in the Protocol.

Under the Protocol, the key responsibilities of the MRF operator are to:

  • ensure each MRF operated by the MRF operator is eligible for claiming processing refunds. Apply and receive approval from the EPA for each MRF that does not have a relevant environment protection licence under the Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997 
  • confirm eligibility to claim with Exchange for Change and notify of any changes
  • measure input materials and output materials using calibrated and verified equipment.
  • seek and receive approval from Exchange for Change if using equipment other than a weighbridge
  • measure stock on hand using a methodology agreed by the Scheme Coordinator
  • report inputs, outputs and stock on hand to Exchange for Change within the timeframes required
  • separate and quarantine Non-claimable Material. Seek and receive approval from Exchange for Change if using an alternative method of separating Non-Claimable Material
  • inform Exchange for Change of the claim method (weight or direct count) that will be used at each of the operator’s MRFs
  • apply and receive approval for an Inter-MRF transfer if planning to transport materials to a different MRF operator facility (where relevant circumstances exist)
  • make a quarterly claim in accordance with the Act, Regulation and Protocol
  • follow the dispute resolution process prescribed in the Protocol.

Eligible container factor

The eligible container factors are state-wide averages of the number of eligible containers in each kilogram of a material type (e.g. glass or PET). They are used to determine how much a MRF operator is entitled to claim, if the MRF operator uses the ‘weight’ method, rather than a direct count of containers.

These factors are calculated by an independent statistician, using sampling data collected from MRFs, and kerbside audits conducted in accordance with the Sampling Strategy.

The factors are published quarterly by the EPA.

Sampling costs to determine container factors are shared by MRF operators based on the formula published on the EPA website as amended from time to time. A MRF operator that introduces a new container factor may be subject to additional costs to meet sampling requirements.

The sampling cost deduction is calculated for the entire claim period (quarter).

The sampling cost per container is calculated by dividing the total monetary cost incurred by the Scheme Coordinator to undertake the sampling for the claim period (quarter) by the total estimated number of eligible containers recycled by MRF operators making a claim, or delivered to a recycling facility in Australia or consigned for transport to a recycling facility in a foreign country during that claim period (quarter).

Where:

SR = Sampling Rate, which is the unit cost of sampling per container

C = the total monetary cost incurred by the Scheme Coordinator to undertake the sampling for the claim period (quarter)

is the total estimated number of eligible containers of material type i recycled by MRF operators making a claim, or delivered to a recycling facility in Australia or consigned for transport to a recycling facility in a foreign country during months 1, 2 and 3 of the claim period (quarter).

is the sum of all material types claimed by MRF operators during the claim period (quarter)

i is the material type for which the claim is being made

j is the month being assessed during the claim period

n = the number of material types claimed in the claim period (quarter)

The sampling cost per material type is then calculated by multiplying the sampling rate by the estimated number of eligible containers of each material type recycled by the MRF operator making the claim or delivered to a recycling facility in Australia or consigned for transport to a recycling facility during the claim period (quarter).

Where: Di is the sampling cost deduction for the MRF operator for material type i for the quarter.

Count eligible per kilogram by material stream

 

Factor (eligible ct / kg)

Material

Quarter 3
Jan‑Mar
FY22

Quarter 4
April‑June
FY22

Quarter 1
July‑Sept
FY23

Quarter 2
Oct‑Dec
FY23

Aluminium

48.05

54.83

50.07

 

PET segregated

9.09

10.19

13.28

 

HDPE segregated

0.55

0.37

0.65

 

Mixed Plastics segregated

1.75

0.81

0.47

 

Mixed Plastics combined

2.21

3.31

3.04

 

Interim Plastics Blend 1

6.51

5.09

4.19

 

Interim Plastics Blend 2   0.72  1.06  

Glass

1.07

0.87

0.83

 

Approved 17 May 2022

Approved 16 August 2022

Approved 9 November 2022

 


(Count eligible per kilogram by material stream)

Factor (eligible ct / kg)
Material Quarter 3
Jan‑Mar
FY21
Quarter 4
April‑June
FY21
Quarter 1
July‑Sept
FY22
Quarter 2
Oct‑Dec
FY22

Aluminium

52.48

51.26

53.87

52.88

PET segregated

11.17

10.10

10.58

9.09

HDPE segregated

0.41

0.40

0.50

0.55

Mixed Plastics segregated

1.31

1.35

1.74

1.62

Mixed Plastics combined

4.22

3.92

3.99

3.14

Glass

0.98

0.91

1.01

1.03

Approved 7 May 2021

Approved 28 August 2021

Approved 2 November 2021

Approved 31 January 2022

(Count eligible per kilogram by material stream)

Factor (eligible ct / kg)

Material

Quarter 3
Jan‑Mar
FY20

Quarter 4
April‑June
FY20

Quarter 1
July‑Sept
FY21

Quarter 2
Oct‑Dec
FY21

Aluminium

51.25

53.51

48.40

51.35

PET segregated

11.09

10.04

9.47

10.65

HDPE segregated

0.42

0.46

0.42

0.50

Mixed Plastics segregated

2.25

1.33

1.52

1.42

Mixed Plastics combined

4.26

3.64

3.60

4.46

Glass

1.09

1.16

0.92

1.07

Approved 13 May 2020

Approved 30 July 2020

Approved 11 November 2020

Approved 5 February 2021

(Count eligible per kilogram by material stream)

   Factor (eligible ct / kg)
Material Quarter 3
Jan - Mar
FY19
Quarter 4
April - June
FY19
Quarter 1
July - Sept
FY20
Quarter 2
Oct - Dec
FY20

Aluminium

51.83

47.38

45.98

51.25

PET segregated

14.26

12.19

10.39

10.67

HDPE segregated

0.51

0.41

0.42

0.29

Mixed Plastics segregated

2.56

2.16

3.29

1.96

Mixed Plastics combined

4.18

4.13

3.57

3.84

Glass

1.28

1.02

0.97

1.18

Approved 13 May 2019

Approved 12 August 2019 Approved 12 November 2019  Approved 12 February 2020

(Count eligible per kilogram by material stream)

   Factor (eligible ct / kg)
Material Quarter 3
Dec 2017 - Mar 2018
 Quarter 4
April - June 2018
FY18
 Quarter 1
July- Sept 2018
FY19
 Quarter 2
Oct - Dec 2018
FY19

Aluminium

59.17

 58.11  48.73  50.36

PET segregated

18.96

 13.90  12.69  13.3

HDPE segregated

0.69

 0.64  0.43  0.52

Mixed segregated

3.62

 2.83  2.82  2.62

Mixed combined

8.74

 5.44  4.70  4.06

Glass

2.25

 1.83  1.57  1.77

 

Approved 24 April 2018

 

Approved

10 August 2018
 

Approved

5 November 2018
 

Approved

31 January 2019

Application for new eligible container factor

Requests for new eligible container factor (Efi) material types can be requested by completing the Application for Container Factor – Material type form and submitting to the EPA.

MRF processing refund protocol - Sampling strategy

The Material recovery facility processing refund protocol -  Sampling strategy (PDF 1.6MB) sets out the theory and methodology for the development of sampling. Sampling is then implemented to generate the data for the development of the eligible container factors.

Bottle Crushing Service Operators Processing Refund Protocol

The Protocol does not apply to MRF operators that are a bottle crushing service operator or an alternative waste treatment (AWT) plant operator. Bottle crushing service operators should refer to the current Bottle Crushing Service Operator Processing Refund Protocol.

The Bottle Crushing Service Operator Processing Refund Protocol (PDF 521KB) allows these operators to claim processing refunds for the eligible containers they collect. The Protocol sets out the methodology to be applied in determining amounts payable as processing refunds and requirements for record keeping and auditing.

Bottle Crushers annual recycling statement

An Annual Recycling Statement must be submitted on the Bottle Crushers annual recycling statement within 60 calendar days of the end of each year ended 30 June.

See Guidance notes (PDF 114KB)

Submit to MRF.Protocol@epa.nsw.gov.auand info@exchangeforchange.com.au

Reporting and change applications

Reporting

MRF operators are required to report to Exchange for Change on a monthly and annual basis. Reporting requirements must include a breakdown for each facility for which the MRF operator is claiming.

Exchange for Change may provide information reported by any MRF operator to the EPA at any time.

Applications

Applications for changes or confirmation of eligibility can be made by contacting the Scheme Coordinator.

All forms referred to in the Protocol, except the Application for Container Factor – Material type, are available from Exchange for Change.

Application for container factor - material type.

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