South Australia

South Australia was the first Australian state to enact deposit legislation. As other states follow suit with proposed deposit refund systems, this system is commonly used as their model.

Law Summary Environment Protection Act 1993, Part 8, Division 2: Beverage Containers. Commonly known as Container Deposit Legislation (CDL) sets up a deposit-refund system to Reduce beverage litter, achieve higher resource recovery rates, and educate the community to recycle.
Date Implemented Deposit legislation implemented in 1975.  Integrated with Environment Protection Act in 1993
Containers Covered Most beverage containers are covered except some large containers for certain beverages, listed below
Beverages Covered All beverages except: wine in glass bottles, casks, and sachets; plain milk and flavored milk in containers 1Litre or more, and 'pure' fruit juice in containers 1Litre or more
Refundable Deposits 10¢
Fees / Taxes  
Program Success Containers are recovered at the following rates:
  • 85% of non refillable glass bottles, compared with 36% nationally.
  • 84% of cans marketed in this State compared with 63% nationally.
  • 74% for PET whilst the national return rate is 36%. 
  • Liquid Paperboard, a recent inclusion, has a return rate of 40% increasing. 3[2]
View Legislation Container Deposit Legislation (sets up infrastructure)
Beverage Container Regulations 2008(Administrative details)


How South Australia's Deposit System Works

The Recyclers of South Australia have put together a detailed chart on their website explaining the steps in the deposit-return process.  This is a duplicate version.

Step 1
Beverage Filler

Wholesaler supplies to retailers. The 10 cent deposit and an agreed handling fee is included in the wholesale price of the beverage.

The deposit and handling fee is retained by the beverage filler or their agent who operates as the collection co-ordinator. This is held until the deposit containers are returned to them to be recycled.

Step 2
(Hotels, Delicatessens, Supermarkets etc)

Supply consumers. The 10 cent deposit and handling fee is included in the retail price paid by the consumer for the beverage.  

Step 3
Consumer (or community groups

Return deposit containers to recycling depot for full payment, 10 cent deposit.  

Step 4
Recycling Depot

Sort the containers by material and responsible agent, ie. Glass, aluminium, PET, into containers for return to the collection co-ordinators.

Marine Stores Pty Ltd

Lion Nathan / SA Brewing and Cooper products
Fosters Products

Statewide Recycling
Coca Cola, Schweppes, and companies marketing a wide range of boutique beers, spring waters etc. (cans, PET and non refillable glass containers)

Cans - Back to Marine Stores Pty Ltd

Glass - Broken up, and cullet sent to Beneficiation Plant.

Glass - Culleted and delivered to the Beneficiation Plan

Cans - Back to Visy Recycling (Can Co-ordinator)

Cans, PET, liquid paperboard , other plastics and steel cans back to Statewide Recycling the collection co-ordinator.

Glass - returned to the Beneficiation Plant.


Once containers are sorted, they are sent back to the collection co-ordinator, agent for the recycling of material and auditing.

Collection co-ordinators are:

Statewide Recycling
Flagcan Distributors
Visy Recycling
Marine Stores Pty Ltd

Collection co-ordinators pay the Recycling depot back the 10 cent deposits which they paid out to the consumer in step 3, plus an agreed handling fee.

More information

92% of South Australians support their Container Deposit Legislation.  The 2003 Report, "Community awareness and acceptance of Container Deposit Legislation" [PDF,62kb] provides more details on what South Australians know and think of the CDL.

In 2008, the deposit/refund amount was changed to 10¢ per container, regardless of "Category" (Previously it had been 10¢ for Category A and 5¢ for Category B). According to the South Australia EPA, "The State Government has increased the deposit amount on beverage containers to encourage more South Australians to recycle. By increasing the incentive to recycle, less litter will be seen on our streets and less waste will be sent to landfill."

The Northern Territory was the second Australian territory to enact a deposit law, which was modeled on the South Australia law. The two territories signed an agreement in 2011 to align their container deposit schemes. The agreement also addresses the issues of minimizing border fraud and increasing recovery and recycling while reducing litter.


1. Container Deposit Legislation (CDL) in South Australia,

2.Container Deposit Legislation (CDL) in South Australia,

3. Recyclers of South Australia,

4. Andrea Woods, Advisor, Container Deposit Legislation, Environment Protection Authority

Updated December 17, 2011