What is a Container Refund Scheme?
A Container Refund Scheme (CRS) incentivises people to return their beverage containers in return for a 10c refund. The containers are then recycled, and the material will have future use.
There are two key objectives for the Container Refund Scheme in Tasmania: to reduce litter and increase recycling.
What is a split-responsibility model and how does it work?
The Tasmanian Government has selected a split-responsibility governance model for the CRS. Split-responsibility means that the Scheme Coordinator will run the administration and finance for the Scheme and the Network Operator manages the network of Refund Points across Tasmania. The Scheme Coordinator and Network Operator will be appointed through a competitive public tender process. The split responsibility model is already operating in New South Wales and the ACT and currently being developed in Victoria.
What do I have to do?
When the Scheme starts, you can take an empty beverage container that is eligible for the refund to a designated Refund Point. These will be located right around Tasmania, for example in supermarkets, shopping centres and at local retail shops.
The details of the refund payment method will be finalised soon. Schemes in other states use cash refunds, refunds directly to credit card, debit card, bank deposit or PayPal account, vouchers for participating retailers, and donations directly to a charity of choice.
What will the refund amounts be?
The Container Refund Scheme will see a refund of 10 cents for all eligible empty drink containers returned to designated Refund Points across Tasmania. This is consistent with other States.
Who will pay for the Container Refund Scheme?
The beverage industry will fund the Scheme, as it does in all mainland Schemes. This aligns with the idea of ‘product stewardship’: whoever sells a product takes responsibility for minimising its environmental impact.
Which containers are included?
We are finalising which containers will be part of the CRS. Like other Schemes, ours will focus on beverage containers that most commonly contribute to litter. It’s likely that containers eligible for the Scheme will be similar to other States’.
For example, eligible containers are typically those that are between 150ml and three litres, cans (e.g. soft drink and beer), bottles (both glass and PET), cartons (e.g. flavoured milk), juice boxes or poppers.
Ineligible containers include regular milk containers, glass wine bottles, glass spirit bottles, juice bottles over one litre and cordial bottles.
Why are some drink containers not included in the Container Refund Scheme, such as milk bottles?
The idea behind the Scheme is to reduce litter. Typically, beverage containers that make up litter are from drinks that are consumed away from home, which generally doesn’t include milk containers. Tasmania is actively engaging in discussions with other states about how the scope of eligible containers may expand over time.
Is wine included in the CRS?
At this stage glass bottles for wine and spirits are not included in the Tasmanian CRS. This ensures harmonisation with interstate schemes. Of the six CRSs operating interstate, none accept wine bottles, and none accept spirit bottles.
The states and territories are currently discussing the inclusion of wine and spirits in CRSs. The South Australian EPA has proposed including wine and spirits nationally, in a recent paper which is available online. Tasmania is playing an active role in these discussions. We are committed to a consistent national approach.
Can I start collecting containers now?
You should only begin collecting your beverage containers once the Scheme has started. In the meantime, we encourage consumers not to ‘stockpile’ containers and to continue to recycle as normal in their yellow lidded kerbside bin, or public recycling bins, until the Scheme starts.
How will you make sure these containers are recycled and not sent to landfill?
This Scheme is all about recycling drink containers, not leaving them in the environment or in landfill. The legislation will stipulate that all containers collected under the Scheme must be recycled. There will be regular compliance audits to ensure containers aren’t being sent to landfill.
The containers are collected from Container Refund Points by the Network Operator and are taken to a sorting and processing facility. Here, beverage containers are sorted into types (glass, plastic, aluminum) and prepared to be processed for recycling and reuse.
What about if I put the container in my yellow bin, do I get a refund?
No, people will only get a refund for drink containers returned to designated Refund Points.
What are Refund Points and where will they be?
We want all Tasmanians to be able to participate in the Scheme and get a refund for their containers, regardless of where they live.
The Government will implement minimum ‘community access standards’ for the Container Refund Scheme, setting out a minimum number of Refund Points together with other stipulations to ensure comprehensive coverage right around Tasmania. The network will have more than 40 Refund Points, including in every city, and on King Island and Flinders Island. We expect to see everything from large depot collection points and reverse vending machines in the major population centres, to over-the-counter Refund Points in small businesses.
There will be more Refund Points around the state than there are Service Tasmania outlets.
To ensure that everyone can access the Scheme no matter where they are in the state, there will be a range of Refund Points available across Tasmania. These will be as convenient as possible to result in higher collection rates.
How can businesses be involved?
Businesses – both small and large - can apply to operate a Refund Point. Hospitality businesses can collect and return containers, to claim the refund. There will also be opportunities for logistics and transport services.
Can anyone be a Refund Point Operator?
In other states and territories, there are basic requirements that a business must meet in order to be a Refund Point Operator. In QLD for example, a Refund Point Operator must have:
- An appropriate lease;
- An ABN;
- Council approval;
- Staff (volunteer or employed); and
As well as this, any prospective Refund Point Operator will also need to have the capacity to hold and store volumes of containers, and to be open for a minimum number of hours on a set number of days. They will also likely need to be able to contract for a defined period of time.
Anyone who meets these requirements will be able to apply as a Refund Point, however the final determinations will be made by the Network Operator, in consideration of the most effective Refund Point Network, and locations that will provide the maximum convenience to consumers.
How can community groups participate in the Scheme?
The Tasmanian Government is dedicated to ensuring that interested charities, community groups, and sporting clubs around Tasmania will be able to benefit from the establishment of a Container Refund Scheme.
Donation Point – where local community members can drop off their containers, so that the charity or community group operating the Donation Point can take the containers to a Refund Point to get the 10c refund.
Financial Donations at Refund Points – where container refunds can be donated directly to charity and community groups. Charity and community groups can register for a Refund Account, which allows people at a Refund Point to donate their refund to any Refund Account.
Contract to the Network Operator to run a Refund Point and receive handling fees – the 10c refund is then paid out to the customer or their nominated charity. The Network Operator provides support such as administrative tools and transport.
This ensures that charities and community groups have many opportunities to be part of the Scheme, and to benefit from it.
What kind of jobs will the Scheme create?
The recycling industry is worth billions of dollars to the Australian economy, and creates far more jobs than if we were to send that recyclable material to landfill. In other states, hundreds of new, sustainable jobs have been created through the development of Container Refund Schemes. There will be jobs created in Tasmania as well. For example, contracts will be made with a Scheme Coordinator to run the finance and administration of the Scheme, and a Network Operator to run the network of container Refund Points. Other businesses can be engaged by applying to be a Refund Point, and there will be opportunities for local logistics. We also anticipate that jobs in the reuse and recycling industry will increase because there will be more materials recovered.
Tasmania's beverage industry
Tasmania’s small beverage industry has a key role to play in the success of the CRS. We know that sustainability, Tasmania’s clean, pure brand, and a reputation for premium produce are important to our beverage industry’s future. And we know customers want to be rewarded for drinking local beverages with a 10-cent refund for each bottle or can when the CRS starts in 2022.
The Government has been working with small beverage companies to reduce the impact of the Scheme, while ensuring they are part of our CRS and part of our drive to reduce litter and increase recycling.
Support for the small beverage industry
Tasmania has more than 90 small beverage companies, operating across the state, and their contribution to the economy, tourism and employment is highly valued. The small beverage sector has a key role to play in the CRS. The Government has been working with the industry to ensure it can continue to thrive.
Under ‘producer responsibility’ the beverage industry pays for the CRS, including refunds. But in Tasmania beverage companies will not pay for their first 20,000 beverage sales each year. This ‘cost-free threshold’ aims to help small beverage companies grow and thrive. It means 40 of our small beverage companies will not have to pay into the Scheme. It means less administrative work and fewer invoices. And customers will still receive a refund for these containers.
Only drinks sold in containers are included. Kegs and refillable bottles (‘growlers’) are exempt.
Beverage containers must be approved for sale under the CRS, but all containers approved under the NSW CRS will be automatically approved here. That means less paperwork. And there will be no fee for registering containers in Tasmania.
There will be a transition period for CRS labelling rules (containers are required to carry a barcode and a refund message). Small beverage companies have until 2024.
A grants program will help small Tasmanian companies with the cost of obtaining barcodes.
Small beverage companies will have the option of doing their paperwork - reporting sales and paying invoices - monthly or quarterly, whichever suits them.
Invoicing will be in arrears, which is what the beverage industry asked for. It will not be based on sales forecasts.
Thresholds for assistance Measures 4, 5 and 6 apply to companies with total annual production of CRS-eligible beverages (eg soft drink, juice, water, beer, cider, flavoured milk) of less than 250,000 litres. Other measures apply to all beverage companies.
Will the cost of beverages go up?
It is expected that that prices will initially rise by less than 10 cents per drink container when the CRS starts, but if you take your containers back to a Refund Point, or collect litter, you’ll receive 10 cents for every container.
I’ve heard the cost of a slab of beer will go up by $10, is this true?
No. Independent reviews of the first year of the Queensland and NSW CRSs found that price increases were less than 10 cents per drink container, so less than $2.40 for a slab. The Marsden Jacob report on a Tasmanian Container Refund Scheme found containers would increase by just under 10 cents in the first year of the Scheme, rising to 11 cents per container after six years. That’s an increase of $2.64 for a slab – and the consumer gets $2.40 back for returning their containers. There are six Container Refund Schemes operating in Australia, and nowhere has a slab of beer increased by $10.
The hospitality industry has been hit significantly by the COVID-19 pandemic – how can the Government justify implementing a Container Refund Scheme as the industry recovers?
We’ve been working closely with the hospitality industry. The Tasmanian Hospitality Association sits on the CRS Expert Reference Group, which met throughout 2021 to discuss the Scheme’s operational details. The Scheme can benefit Tasmania’s hospitality industry. With tourists coming here for our natural scenery and pristine environment, participating in a Scheme to reduce litter will protect and boost Tasmania’s brand. Currently, litter is a problem along some Tasmanian roadsides, and beverage containers make up a large proportion of this. Reducing this litter will enhance the state’s tourism and hospitality appeal.