Background and laws

The NSW Government’s Container Deposit Scheme, Return and Earn, will reduce the volume of litter caused by drink containers that currently make up about 44% of all litter discarded in NSW. Scheme users will receive a 10-cent refund for every eligible drink container submitted to a collection point.


The NSW Government released a discussion paper on a container deposit scheme for NSW in 2015-16, with

  • more than 11,000 submissions being received
  • more than 98% of respondents being in favour of a refund-based scheme

After assessing the submissions and considering input, the NSW Government

  • refined the model it would use to help combat litter through refunding drink container waste
  • introduced a Bill to Parliament to establish a container deposit scheme



The Waste Avoidance and Resource Recovery Amendment (Container Deposit Scheme) Act 2016 commenced on 17 November 2016 and inserted new Part 5 into the Waste Avoidance and Resource Recovery Act 2001 (WARR Act). Part 5 of the WARR Act sets out the legislative framework under which Return and Earn will operate.


The primary Regulation that sits under Part 5 of the Act support the day-to-day operation of Return and Earn were open for consultation from 30 November to 23 December 2016. The EPA received 12 community submissions and 40 stakeholder submissions. Following consideration of these, the Waste Avoidance and Resource Recovery (Container Deposit Scheme) Regulation 2017 was published in March 2017. The Regulation prescribes

  • the scope of beverages covered by the scheme and the refund amount
  • applications and approval requirements for collection point arrangements
  • matters for determining whether scheme participants are fit and proper persons
  • performance targets for establishing and operating collection points
  • how recycling facilities may claim refunds on containers collected through the kerbside recycling system, and incentives for councils and facilities to negotiate sharing those refunds
  • reporting obligation of the Scheme Coordinator

Environment planning instrument

The NSW Government sought feedback on a proposed amendment to the State Environmental Planning Policy (Exempt and Complying Development Codes) 2008.

The amendment will allow minor and low impact recycling equipment such as reverse vending machines to be exempt development (no planning or building approval required).

Mutual recognition exemptions

The Scheme laws impose certain requirements on the sale of beverages not required in other States and Territories that do not have a container deposit scheme, or in New Zealand.

In this respect, the NSW laws for the Scheme may be inconsistent with the Commonwealth mutual recognition laws, which allow goods that are lawfully sold in another state or territory or in New Zealand to be sold in NSW without any further requirements.

To remove this inconsistency, it is proposed to exempt the NSW Scheme laws from the Commonwealth mutual recognition laws. Temporary exemptions are currently in place while the NSW Government seeks permanent exemptions under the Commonwealth legislation

The NSW Container Deposit Scheme: Consultation Regulation Impact Statement (CDS RIS) (PDF 2MB) sets out the expected regulatory impacts of putting in place the proposed permanent exemptions.

Consultation on the CDS RIS has now closed and a final RIS has been prepared to support the proposal for the permanent exemptions. We thank everyone for their contributions.

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