What is the Container Deposit Scheme (CDS)?

    The SA Container Deposit Scheme (CDS) is one of the longest running and successful product stewardship schemes in Australia, with container deposit legislation being first introduced in SA in 1977 as a litter control measure and is now also used to incentivise resource recovery and recycling. 

    The scheme was introduced to address significant volumes of beverage containers in the litter stream and broadly coincided with the introduction of non-refillable beverage containers such as cans and then later, plastic soft drink bottles.  

    Each year over 600 million container deposit scheme (CDS) beverage containers (over 40,000 tonnes) are returned by South Australians for refund and recycling.


    Why is the CDS being reviewed?

    The SA container deposit scheme has led the way for over 44 years but now needs modernising given that much has changed since the commencement of the scheme.

    Now it is time to strengthen the container deposit scheme to incorporate modern technology, establish transparent reporting systems, and apply circular economy objectives to make more high-value glass and plastic beverage container materials available for re-manufacturing in SA and nationally.

    What are the benefits of modernising the CDS?

    The discussion paper presents a number of options and opportunities to modernise the CDS that will:

    • Increase the circulation of beverage containers through resource recovery to support a strong market for recycling recovered containers; 
    • Incentivise the SA community to return CDS containers and access the refund;
    • address the disproportionate impacts of the CDS on small to medium beverage producers and suppliers; and
    • improve the efficiency of the container deposit scheme and reduce scheme costs; and
    • divert beverage containers away from the kerbside waste system to the CDS, reducing the waste management costs of local government and increasing the recovery of high value beverage container materials that contribute to South Australia’s circular economy.

    What consultation has happened to date?

    In January 2019, the Minister for Environment and Water, the Hon David Spiers MP, announced a review of South Australia’s Container Deposit Scheme (CDS) and released the Improving South Australia's Recycling Makes Cents scoping paper for public consultation.

    During the six-week consultation, the EPA received over 1,170 responses from members of the public, CDS stakeholders, environment and community groups, the beverage manufacturing and supply sector, the resource recovery and recycling sector and the government sector. A summary report of responses was released in August 2019.

    The EPA Board hosted a CDS Summit in May 2019 where key issues relating to the governance of the CDS were explored with local government, NGO’s, collection depots, super collectors, retailers and producers.

    A CDS Review Reference Group was established and has met 4 times, in addition to many meetings with individual stakeholders.

    What is a circular economy?

    A circular economy is a self-sustaining system which aims to keep materials in use, or ‘circulating’, for as long as possible. It extracts the maximum value from materials while in use, then recovers and reuses them in other forms.

    For example, returning beverage containers to collection points where they are sorted into material types such as glass, plastic and aluminium and then sold into a market for recycling. The remanufactured product then extends the life of the beverage container material.