Bottle Bill Resource Guide

Law Summary The Return and Earn container deposit scheme is a NSW Government initiative, funded by contributions from the beverage industry, that aims to reduce beverage container litter in the environment. It offers a 10c refund to consumers, incentivising them to hold onto their eligible containers or pick up littered containers left behind by others, for depositing at return points across NSW.
Date Implemented December 1, 2017
Containers Covered Most NSW beverage containers between 150ml and 3 litres in volume will be eligible for a refund. Containers should be returned empty, uncrushed, unbroken and with the original label attached.[1]
Beverages Not Covered
  • plain milk (or milk substitute) containers
  • flavoured milk containers 1 litre or more
  • 90% or more fruit or vegetable juice containers 1 litre or more
  • glass containers for wine and spirits
  • casks (plastic bladders in boxes) for wine and casks for water – 1 litre or more
  • sachets for wine 250ml or more
  • containers for cordials, concentrated fruit/vegetable juices
  • registered health tonics.
Amount of Deposit


Reclamation System

The collection point network is made up of several types of return points including Reverse Vending Machines (RVMS), Automated Depots, Over the Counter (OTC) and Donation Stations. Return points can be found through the Return and Earn online search tool. 

The network operator, TOMRA Cleanaway, is responsible for setting up and maintaining the collection point network in accordance with the community access targets set by the NSW Government.

Handling Fee TBD
Other Fees

Fees determined by Exchange for Change, which manages scheme finances. Supplier contributions and payments put into effect in early 2020. [2]

Unredeemed Deposits Remains with the industry.
Program Success

System Results:

2018: 67%[3]

2019: 63%



From 1 December 2017, consumers can participate in Return and Earn in three ways:

  1. Take eligible drink containers to collection points including reverse vending machines and claim the refund.
  2. Give eligible containers to charities, schools, sporting groups or other community organisations for them to redeem and claim the refund.
  3. Eligible containers can continue to be placed in the kerbside system, and kerbside recycling will continue to be important for containers that are typically consumed at home; some of which aren’t eligible for a refund within the NSW Container Deposit Scheme.[4]

cds infographic

Most containers between 150mL and 3L in volume are eligible for a refund. This includes glass, plastic, aluminium, steel, and some cartons. These containers are most commonly consumed out of the home and found in the NSW litter stream. These generally align with the containers that are also eligible for similar container deposit schemes in the other Australian states and territories. Containers should be returned empty, uncrushed, unbroken and with the original label attached.


Footnotes and Further Reading

1. "Return and Earn." NSW Environmental Protection Agency, last updated 10 August 2018.

2. "Drink suppliers and exporters." Return and Earn, last updated December 2019.

3. "Two-year-old Return and Earn keeps delivering." Mirage News, NSW EPA. 03 December 2019.

4.  "How Return and Earn works." NSW Environmental Protection Agency, last updated 02 May 2018.

Further reading:

Waste Avoidance and Resource Recovery Act 2001 – Part 5

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Geoff Isaac, Senior Team Leader at Office of Environment and Heritage: