Victoria’s Container Deposit Scheme, CDS Vic, starts Wednesday 1 November, rewarding Victorians with a 10-cent refund for every eligible can, carton and bottle they return.
Hundreds of container refund points are ready to open across Victoria, and more will open in the coming weeks. The network is set to grow to more than 600 refund points by August 2024.
CDS Vic will target beverage containers that most commonly contribute to litter and are often consumed away from home. This includes plastic soft drink bottles, glass beer bottles, flavoured milk containers, soft drinks and alcohol sold in cans, and small fruit juice cartons.
The State Government says the eligible containers will be recycled and remanufactured into new products, cutting litter by up to half.
A range of containers are exempt, including glass wine and spirit bottles, health tonics, non-flavoured milk, cordial bottles, and juice bottles one litre and over. A complete list of eligible containers can be found in the Container Deposit Scheme regulations.
Refund point types
Typical refund points include:
- Reverse vending machines (RVMs)
Eligible containers can be inserted into RVMs, where containers are scanned and verified.
Best for large loads, depots allow walk-ins or drive-throughs where containers are counted and refunded on the spot.
In some areas small businesses or organisations provide an over-the-counter service, essentially working like a mini depot.
The scheme operators
The scheme encompasses three zones: the North, West and East zones. CDS Vic will be run by a scheme coordinator and network operators (zone operators).
Return-it, TOMRA Cleanaway and Visy are the zone operators and will:
- establish and maintain a network of refund points in their appointed zones
- distribute refund amounts to consumers
- distribute payments to refund point operators, and
- report on CDS participation and redemption rates.
VicReturn is the overall scheme coordinator and will:
- manage the financial and administrative aspects of the scheme
- conduct audits of the scheme to prevent fraud
- pay refund amounts and collection network costs to the zone operators, and
- report against performance targets set by the government.
ARA warns of price increases as Victoria’s Container Deposit Scheme catches up
CDS Vic is the second-last scheme in the country to roll out, ahead of Tasmania which is experiencing delays. In March, New South Wales’ Return and Earn Scheme reported nine billion bottles and cans had been recycled and $900 million in refunds issued since its launch in 2017.
The Australian Retailers Association (ARA) CEO Paul Zahra says that while the Victorian scheme is a positive step in achieving a circular economy, price increases are likely to result from the scheme. He has urged the Government to ramp up its awareness and education campaigns in the coming weeks.
“Responsible waste management and recycling practices are critical for the health of our environment,” Zahra says.
“Container deposit schemes have potential to reduce litter and increase recycling rates, taking us one step closer to a circular economy.
“We are conscious that due to the design of the scheme, retailers deemed the ‘first supplier’ must pay a fee to the Victorian Government to distribute the container, which like other states, will mostly end up being passed onto consumers.
“With most households under cost pressure, and leading into Christmas and the holiday period, it is important to note that retailers have not chosen the timing of these increases, they are simply responding to the legislation and implementation date chosen by the Victorian Government.”
Visit the CDS Vic website for more information about the scheme.