Information for suppliers of drink containers

Beverage suppliers play an important role in the NSW Container Deposit Scheme, Return and Earn.

Under Return and Earn, the owner of a container first supplied into NSW is the first supplier. This may include the container’s manufacturer, distributors or retailers. If you are unsure if you are a first supplier, this guidance may help.

If you are a first supplier, you are required to

  • enter into a Supply Arrangement with the Scheme Coordinator, Exchange for Change
  • ensure that each class of drink container you first supply in NSW has been granted a container approval by the EPA

Supply arrangements

All first suppliers of an eligible drink container in NSW must enter into a Supply Arrangement with Exchange for Change. They must also contribute to the costs of Return and Earn under this arrangement.

For more information on how to register as a supplier, supplier arrangements, and the scheme payments and contribution methodology visit the Exchange for change website or contact Exchange for Change on 1800 813 887 or customersupport@xchangeforchange.com.au.

Container approvals

All beverage suppliers must ensure the EPA has granted a container approval for each class of beverage container they supply in NSW. It is unlawful to supply eligible beverage containers that have not been approved by the EPA, and penalties may apply. 

A class of container is generally defined by its

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

Container approvals are subject to conditions. This means all containers eligible for Return and Earn must comply with the Waste Avoidance and Resource Recovery (Container Deposit Scheme) Regulation 2017 (the Regulation) by

Container approvals are valid for five years. After this period, suppliers must make an application to renew their approval. 

How to obtain an EPA container approval

To apply for a container approval

  1. Go to the NSW CDS Container Approval Portal.
  2. Register your organisation.
  3. If your organisation’s registration is approved, you will receive a login and password.
  4. Confirm your container has not already been submitted for approval using the container search tool.
  5. Apply for container approvals for your beverage containers and pay the application fee.
  6. The EPA will notify you whether your application has been approved.
For more detailed instructions, read the NSW CDS Container Approval portal: User guide for suppliers (PDF 1.9MB).

Application fees for container approvals

The container approval application fee is $13.70 per container. The EPA will not review an application for a container approval until this fee is paid.

The EPA will not refund the application fee if a supplier incorrectly applies for container approval or if the application is refused.

Container compliance

NSW refund mark

Every eligible beverage container in NSW must show the NSW refund marking with the words “10c refund at collection depots/points in participating State/Territory of purchase” in clear and legible characters. For example

eligible dring containers

Compliance with the refund marking is mandatory and applies at all points in the supply chain. All suppliers and retailers in NSW are liable for ensuring the containers they supply show the correct refund marking.

The refund marking can be included on the product label or be printed directly onto containers. Suppliers and retailers with stock that does not have the refund mark can use stick-on labels to make it compliant.

Barcode requirement

Containers supplied into NSW must comply with the barcode requirement. Barcodes must be unique to their class of containers, and either a GTIN barcode, or an 8-13-digit barcode that complies with the GS1 Standard.

Prohibited lids

Cans must not have removable ring-pull lids (such as 360 end lids). No container approvals will be granted for cans with this lid type.

containers showing acceptable and prohibited lids

An approval is needed for each class of container

A container approval only applies to the class of container specified in your application. The approval cannot be transferred to another class of container.

If a container is altered, such as by changing the barcode, material type, dimensions or contents, a new application for approval is required. Changes to the artwork on a container or its label do not require a new approval.

Approval considerations, suspension and revocations

The EPA takes a number of factors into consideration when reviewing an application for approval and may periodically review existing container approvals for compliance. The EPA may refuse, suspend, revoke or apply conditions to an approval for reasons including, but not limited to, the following

  • a container does not have a compliant barcode, refund marking or can lid (suppliers may also be subject to penalties)
  • a supply arrangement is not in force, or has expired, been terminated, or contravened by the supplier
  • the product is composed of materials unsuitable for recycling
  • the EPA considers the container no longer suitable for the proper operation of the scheme, such as for reuse, recycling, or that it increases the potential for litter
  • a supplier applies to have the container approval revoked

Suppliers will be notified if the EPA intends to refuse, apply conditions, suspend or revoke a container approval. Suppliers are given the opportunity to provide comments and have their views considered before a final decision is issued.

The EPA uses active compliance measures where necessary to ensure all registered containers meet the legislated requirements.

Container approval holders should ensure the details of their container approvals are recorded correctly in the NSW CDS Container Approval Portal to avoid unnecessary compliance action.

More information

Fact Sheets

The information on this page is available in downloadable fact sheets

Page last updated