CDS - A better way

cds pt2

This is Part 2 of our series on the Container Deposit Scheme (read Part 1).  Queensland officially launches it’s CDS on 1 November and we revisit what this means for the beverage industry and the environment, and continue the discussion about effective strategies for craft beer breweries.

Main points for breweries

  • Container Deposit Scheme (CDS) is legally required in most states of Australia.
  • Drink cans and bottles are charged 9 cents each, payable by the brewery.
  • Container collection points earn a commission of 6 cents per container.
  • Breweries that set up a collection point may reduce their compliance costs of CDS.
  • Breweries can do more for the environment with reusable containers.


A recap on CDL and CDS

Container Deposit Legislation (CDL) has been (or is being) rolled out in most states and territories in Australia with the exception of Victoria and Tasmania who may decide to join in later.  The purpose of the Container Deposit Scheme (CDS) is to incentivise consumers to return empty beverage containers for recycling.

CDS states bw

CDS across Australia


What is the Container Deposit Scheme (CDS)?

Beverage manufacturers pay the scheme 9-cents per drink container they produce.
10-cents is reimbursed to the consumer who returns the empty container to a registered collection point for recycling. 
The collection point receives 6-cents per container, and the container is sent to a recycling company to be recycled.


What does the CDS mean for industry and the environment?

As with most costs of production, the 9-cent-per-unit cost is passed down to the consumer.  The remaining 7-cents for collection and any additional costs to government is picked up by the taxpayer.

The CDS aims to reduce the environmental impact of single-use containers through recycling.  South Australia, which has the longest running and most effective CDS in Australia, has the highest return rate of beverage containers at 79.9%.  It’s an improvement on the recycling of these beverage containers compared to non-CDS States, but 20.1% is still exiting the system and ending up as waste.

A long term solution for industry is to phase-out the production of single-use beverage containers that are known to be harmful to the environment.  Alternative beverage containers that are better for manufacturers, consumers and the environment depend on available technology, affordability and effectiveness. In general these are:

  • Reusable containers made of recyclable materials (circular economy); and
  • Single-use disposable containers that are biodegradable and environmentally friendly.


How can breweries manage this better?


1. Make the most of the CDS:

Set up a container deposit point to reduce the cost of compliance.  A well-managed operation may potentially make a profit. (Read Part 1 for details)

2. Offer better alternatives to single-use containers:

Breweries can offer consumers alternative choices to single-use packaging of packs and cartons with reusable containers such as Growlers. 

Large containers (1-Litre  or more) are excluded from the CDS as these types of containers statistically have a low risk of polluting the environment.  Using reusable containers is a win-win solution by reducing the cost to the environment and the brewery.

Continue reading... we discuss some practical examples of reusable containers for breweries in Part 3 [to be published soon].

Links to CDS in each State and Territory

For more information about the Container Deposit Scheme (CDS) in each State or Territory, follow these official links:
SA - Container Deposit Scheme
NSW - Return and Earn
ACT - Container Deposit Scheme
QLD - Containers for Change (also called Container Refund Scheme)
NT - Cash for Containers
WA - WA Container Deposit Scheme

Links to Council initiatives

For more detailed information about recycling options for each Council area across Australia; Planet Ark has listed official links to local government initiatives.

Originally published: 26 October 2018