Role of first suppliers of drink containers

First suppliers of eligible drink containers into NSW have an important role to play from 1 December 2017, when they will help fund Return and Earn, the NSW Government’s Container Deposit Scheme.

For more information on supplier agreements, estimated costs and methodology and the supplier portal go to

All suppliers who first supply eligible drink containers in NSW

  • must enter into a Supply Arrangement with the Scheme Coordinator, Exchange for Change, and contribute to the costs of Return and Earn under this arrangement
  • must ensure that the EPA has granted a container approval for each class of drink container they first supply in NSW

Unsure if you a first supplier? This guidance should help inform your thinking

Only one supplier must hold the container approval for each class of containers. This means suppliers must ensure that either they or another supplier hold the relevant container approval(s).

For example, if a product is manufactured in NSW and supplied to a retailer in NSW, the first supply point is from the manufacturer to the retailer. This means the manufacturer is the first supplier. The manufacturer therefore needs to enter into a Supply Arrangement with Exchange for Change, then ensure they have an EPA container approval for their containers.

Find out more

A legal interpretation of beverage suppliers' obligations under Return and Earn is found in the Waste Avoidance and Resource Recovery Amendment (Container Deposit Scheme) Act 2016 and the Waste Avoidance and Resource Recovery (Container Deposit Scheme) Regulation 2017.

Supply Arrangement

Exchange for Change will enter into a Supply Arrangement with each first supplier in NSW of a beverage in a container. This Supply Arrangement requires the first supplier to

  • report on the volume of their own first supplies of beverages in containers in NSW, by material type
  • contribute to the cost of managing, administering and operating the Scheme, based on the volume of the supplier’s first supplies as a proportion of the total volume of all eligible containers first supplied in NSW

Suppliers must enter into Supply Arrangements by 1 October 2017 to meet November invoicing deadlines.

Container approvals for beverage suppliers

From 1 December 2017, under Return and Earn, the EPA will grant a container approval for each class of eligible beverage containers first supplied in NSW. Each supplier who first supplies a class of beverage container must ensure a container approval is in force for that container class.

Class of container is generally defined by

  • barcode
  • set of physical dimensions
  • product name
  • beverage type
  • container material type
  • container colour (for PET or glass only)

Find out which beverage containers are eligible

How to obtain an EPA container approval

Beverage suppliers must register and obtain EPA container approvals online through the Return and Earn Container Portal.

To see if your class of container has already been registered for approval with the EPA

To register your containers for approval

  1. Go to the Return and Earn Approval Portal.
  2. Register your organisation.
  3. If your organisation’s registration is approved, you will receive a login and password.
  4. Log on to the Return and Earn Approval Portal.
  5. Confirm your container has not already been registered for approval.
  6. Register and pay for your beverage containers.
  7. The EPA will notify you whether your application has been approved.

From 1 December 2017 it will be unlawful to supply beverages in containers that have not been registered with the EPA and penalties may apply.

Application fees for container approvals

  • An application fee of $80 applies per class of container.
  • The EPA will not grant a container approval until this fee is paid.
  • The EPA will not refund the application fee if a supplier incorrectly registers a container. Before registering a container, suppliers should check it is covered by the scheme and is not already registered for EPA approval.
  • Individual container approvals are valid for five years.
  • After this five-year period, suppliers must apply to renew if they wish to extend their container approval.

Cap on application fee for small suppliers

The EPA has recently changed the fee structure for the application fee for container approvals. These changes are designed to benefit small suppliers that produce small runs of multiple product lines.

Suppliers that supplied up to 2.5 million containers in 2016-17, the year before the Scheme came into operation, would pay a zero fee for their 41st application and all subsequent applications during the first financial year of the Scheme, 2017-2018. This represents a saving of $80 on each application after the 40th application. Suppliers that have already paid for 41 or more applications can apply for a refund.

The new fee structure including the cap is published in the NSW Government Gazette of Friday 5 January 2018, available online (PDF 497k).

Similarly, suppliers that supplied up to 2.5 million containers in 2017-18 will receive the same fee relief in 2018-19.

How to apply for the cap

Registered suppliers

For suppliers who are already registered through the Return and Earn Container Portal and satisfy the criteria for the current financial year, please provide the following information by email to with “Application fee cap” in the subject line:

  • Account name
  • Bank account details (BSB and account number)
  • Customer Number
  • Contact person information (name, role, email, phone number)
  • Which of the following two situations apply to you:
    1. You have already paid for more than 40 container approvals and you are seeking a refund of the fees you have paid above $3200 (you may or may not register more containers this financial year).
    2. You have not yet, but expect to or will, apply for more than 40 container approvals over the course of the financial year 2017-18.
  • A NSW statutory declaration that declares the number of beverage containers your business supplied in total, i.e. within and outside of Australia, in the financial year 1 July 2016 to 30 June 2017. If you are unable to provide an exact total, please indicate if the number of supplied containers falls within the following ranges:
    • Between 2.5 – 2 million
    • Between 2 – 1.5 million
    • Between 1.5 – 1 million
    • Fewer than 1 million
  • Where the applicant is a body corporate, the statutory declaration should be provided by the Managing Director or CEO or equivalent.

If your application is accepted, the EPA will send you an email confirming that the cap will apply for financial year 2017-18.

To obtain the benefit of the cap on an ongoing basis, you will need to follow this process to reapply for the cap for every subsequent financial year in which your business will make more than 40 container approval applications.

Unregistered suppliers

For suppliers who are not yet registered with the Return and Earn Container Portal and will meet the criteria for the cap for this financial year, please register your organisation with the Portal first following the instructions set out above.

Once you have successfully registered, please follow steps 1-3 detailed in the above section on Registered suppliers to apply for the cap before you register any containers for approval in the Portal.


If you have any questions about the cap, please email your queries to:

Container Deposit Scheme refund mark finalised

The refund mark to appear on labels of containers eligible for the 10-cent refund under Return and Earn, the NSW Government’s container deposit scheme, introduced from 1 December 2017, has now been finalised, following the publishing of the Waste Avoidance and Resource Recovery (Container Deposit Scheme) Amendment (Supply and Collection) Regulation 2017 in November 2017.

Following consultation with industry, the NSW Government has worked hard to ensure that beverage suppliers and have enough time to process their existing stock before needing to introduce the new labels with the refund mark, or refund mark printed directly on containers.  The NSW Government has allowed a 24-month transition period before the refund marking must appear on containers being supplied to consumers. 

This means that beverage suppliers and retailers must ensure their containers are marked or labelled with the refund marking, in clear and legible characters, on or before 1 December 2019.

Under the Regulation the refund marking is:
“10c refund at collection depots/points in participating State/Territory of purchase”.

Barcode requirement

In addition to the refund marking, the Regulation prescribes the introduction of a barcode requirement for all eligible containers. The required barcode must also meet the specifications set out in the Regulation (PDF 202KB).

There is also a 24-month transition period before suppliers must have the required barcode on their containers. This means beverage suppliers must ensure their containers are marked or labelled with the required barcode on or before 1 December 2019.


  • Before 1 October 2017: enter into a Supply Arrangement with Exchange for Change
  • Before 30 November 2017: gain a container approval from the EPA
  • Before end 2019: ensure all your eligible drinks containers have the required refund mark
Page last updated