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The challenges of the NSW Container Deposit Scheme (CDS)

Return and Earn or NSW Container Deposit Scheme (CDS)

NSW Container Deposit Scheme (CDS)

The NSW Return and Earn or Container Deposit Scheme (CDS) is coming, but the facts are a little unclear. At this stage, it is understood that it will add up to 20 cents retail to a soft drink, water, or beer etc container purchase and if you return this container to a special recycling centre or reverse vending machines, you will receive 10 cents.


Some initial thoughts re the CDS

Border Towns

What will happen to retailers who live in border towns where different recycling schemes operate in bordering states and the ACT?  Different neighbouring schemes or no schemes at all will create an uneven playing field and will be a big challenge for businesses involved in the supply chain.

Refund Process

As the CDS rolls out, more concerns will be raised including the refund process. From what I have heard, consumers have to present intact (non-crushed/unbroken) aluminium, glass, HDPE, liquid paperboard, PET, or steel beverage containers to receive a 10 cent refund. However, it is rumoured that the companies employed to collect household recycling bins will receive the 10 cents or higher for all containers in any condition. This may or may not be correct but I have heard this from two different sources, so let’s see.

10 cents for Return and Earn

Is 10 cents enough?

Will consumers be bothered to take their containers to a recycling centre for the 10 cents? Consumers are paying extra for their beverage, but is 10 cents worth the effort to drive to a recycling centre to return a few containers for a refund? One key factor of the refund scheme for consumers is the location including the speed of the rollout, and the ease of the refund system. If it is too difficult, the Container Deposit Scheme (CDS) could replace lawn mowing as a way for enterprising NSW youngsters to make money.  I envisage new businesses popping up where they will knock on household’s doors, and give households say 5 cents for each container they pick up and profit the other 5 cents.

Your current recycling bin is in danger

If a consumer just pops their containers into their normal household recycling bin, will others start going through household recycling bins when they are put out on the street at night?  We may end up with a bigger mess with non-refundable material dumped out in the street after someone goes through the household recycling bin.

To be continued

It will be interesting to watch the CDS rollout.  Sure we want less rubbish and to be able to eat fish without plastic bits getting stuck in our teeth, but using price as the overriding driver of the scheme requires detailed evaluation of the different pricing options and their consequences to ensure the ongoing stability and success of the scheme.

John Burke

This article is an edited version of an article posted by John Burke on LinkedIn.

Further information can also be found on the NSW Government EPA site.


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