Container refund points

FAQs

Where can I return my containers?

Authorised container refund points will be established across Queensland in metropolitan, regional and remote areas.

The establishment of container refund points is currently subject to a competitive tender process. The location and type of container refund points will be available via the Scheme website prior to launch.

When will my local container refund point be open?

The opening hours of container refund points will vary across the state.  Prior to launch, the Scheme website will include details of each container refund point location and corresponding opening hours. 

How can our community group or social enterprise get involved?

Organisations can choose to participate in the Scheme in a way that suits them.

Becoming a donation point may suit organisations that have year-round contact with a large community of members and who themselves retail eligible drink containers (e.g. a school or sporting club). A donation point is where members of their community can drop off eligible containers, equivalent to a 10 cent donation to the organisation.

Smaller organisations or those who have more sporadic contact with their membership base may wish to run container collection drives at set times during the year which will encourage members and the wider community to donate eligible containers as a short-term fundraising activity. Mobile collection cages will be available for hire from your local container refund point.  

How will I receive my refund?

Container refund points will pay the refund amount as cash or cash-equivalent (e.g. voucher or electronic payment). Customers should check with the container refund point what options it provides for payment of refunds.

When and how will Container Exchange communicate regarding the Container Refund Scheme to the community?

Prior to the Scheme’s commencement date, Container Exchange, in partnership with the Queensland Government, will undertake an extensive marketing and community awareness campaign. The marketing and community awareness campaign will include both print and online advertising and community education. The Scheme branding is currently being developed with creative agencies by Container Exchange in close consultation with the Department of Environment and Science.  

How do I hire a cage for a community collection drive?

Container refund point are expected to have infrastructure, such as mobile cages, to facilitate collection drives by community groups. Cages can be hired by contacting your local participating container refund point. Contact details for each container refund point will be provided via the Scheme’s website in due course.

What is a reverse vending machine and how do I use it?

A reverse vending machine is a machine where you can return empty eligible containers such as bottles and cans for recycling. When you insert your empty containers into the chute at the front of the machine, it will scan your container to ensure it is eligible for a refund. When you’ve finished depositing the containers, the reverse vending machine will issue the refund. Some reverse vending machines provide customers with a choice of how to receive the refund (e.g. by EFT transfer, as a voucher, or donation to a partner charity or community group).

Please check the type of container refund point and conditions of the location via the Scheme website prior to visiting.

When will refund markings be required for all containers sold in Queensland?

A manufacturer will have a 24-month transition from the date the mark is published to display it on the container. After this period, a manufacturer must not sell the beverage product to another person unless the container displays the required refund marking.

How do I request and register for a Container Recovery Agreement (CRA)?

From Monday, 3 September 2018 you will be able to complete the registration process to request a Container Recovery Agreement (CRA) through the Contract Management System (CMS). Please click here to access a guide and the corresponding training manuals.

By Wednesday, 31 October 2018 all beverage manufacturers must have an executed Container Recovery Agreement.

How do container refund points get paid?

Container refund points will be paid a handling fee by Container Exchange for every eligible container collected plus be reimbursed for the refund amounts paid to members of the public.

Will there be a database or register of approved containers?

Yes, Container Exchange will maintain a register of approved containers. Beverage manufacturers will be responsible for registering their containers. The database will be made available via the Container Exchange website for the Scheme launch. Both members of the public and industry will be able to search to see if a container is registered and therefore eligible under the Scheme.

Can I return all container material types at all locations?

Container refund points are required to collect all eligible containers. Reverse vending machines may not accept glass but are required to identify the nearest location for glass collection.

Donation points may choose not to collect certain types of materials for safety reasons. For example, a school may choose not to collect glass containers due to potential safety risks.   

Please check the type of container refund point and conditions of the location via the Scheme website prior to visiting.

What sort of containers are eligible for a refund?

Most beverage containers between 150ml and 3litres in volume are eligible, with the exception of the following:  

  • Any beverage container less than 150ml
  • Any beverage container more than 3L
  • Any size or material type of containers for:
    • Undiluted cordial containers
    • Fruit or vegetable juice concentrate
    • Registered health tonics
    • Plain milk
  • Glass containers of any size for:
    • Wine
    • Pure spirits
  • Containers over 1 litre in size for:
    • Flavoured milk
    • Pure fruit juice
    • Pure vegetable juice
    • Cask water
    • Cask wine
  • Wine sachets of more than 250ml or less than 150 ml

The list of eligible containers can be found here.

Why are some beverage containers not eligible for a refund?

The container refund scheme aims to reduce the amount of beverage container litter in the environment. The containers that are eligible for a refund are those that are most commonly consumed away from home and make up the majority of container litter in the environment.

For example, excluded containers that have held plain milk or wine are commonly consumed in the home, and can still be recycled either through existing kerbside collection or drop-off services.

Are container refund points required to handle ineligible containers?

No, there is no requirement under the Scheme’s contractual arrangements for container refund points to handle ineligible containers. Container refund points may choose to collect other containers or materials, but these are not eligible for the 10 cent refund, nor are the materials to be processed via the Scheme’s logistics or processing arrangements. 

What condition do my containers have to be in to be eligible?

Containers must be empty. You don’t have to rinse each container but it will help you store them cleanly before returning them. Caps should also be removed from bottles.

If your container does not have a label it may not be recognised as an eligible container by a reverse vending machine and you will need to take these to a container refund point or donation point where the container can be manually counted.

Crushed eligible cans or plastic bottles can be returned to a container refund point or donation point, providing that they can be recognised as being an eligible container. For safety reasons, glass bottles need to be whole and intact. Please note that some reverse vending machines are unable to identify the barcode on a crushed can or bottle, so these should be taken to a container refund point or donation point instead.

Following scheme launch, please check back at this website to check your local container refund point type, conditions and location prior to visiting.

What happens if collected containers are stolen from a container refund point?

The container refund point is responsible for the security of collected containers. Container Exchange will not pay the container refund point a handling fee or refund amount for any containers not received and verified by a processing provider.

Do I need to remove lids from containers before taking them to the container refund point?

Preferably, lids should be removed from beverage containers before taking them to a container refund point. Removing the lids will help with the crushing of containers at processing facilities, and will provide the following benefits:

  • Plastic tops are usually made from a different plastic than the bottle, and separating the plastics reduces the level of ‘contamination’ which means better recycling outcomes
  • Leaving lids on containers can cause problems with transport and storage

Why is a Container Refund Scheme being introduced?

The Queensland Government is introducing a Container Refund Scheme (CRS) to reduce the amount of beverage container litter that enters our environment by providing an incentive for people to collect and return eligible containers for recycling in exchange for a refund payment. Flow-on benefits include business and employment opportunities as part of the operation of the Scheme.

Do I have to sort my containers before taking them to a container refund point or donation point?

No. There is no obligation for you to sort containers before taking them to a container refund point, although there may be some time-saving benefits if you do. Sorting and counting your containers into the various material types such as the different plastics, glass, aluminium and cartons and making a written note of the number of each container type may save time at the container refund point.

The only variation to the above is that when using reverse vending machines you may need to sort your containers by material type. Reverse vending machines often have different chutes for different material types – typically glass and non-glass materials.

When does the Scheme start?

The Scheme will start on 1 November 2018. From this date any eligible beverage containers can be returned to a Container Refund Point in exchange for a 10 cent refund.

Please see list of eligible containers for refund, as refund marks will not be on the containers at the Scheme commencement date.

Can a container refund point refuse to take my containers?

Yes. There are several reasons why a container refund point operator may refuse to accept your containers, including because:

  • They are contaminated (i.e. contain sand or dirt, paint, petrol, noxious substances etc.)
  • The container is not recognisable as an eligible container (i.e. crushed beyond recognition or broken in the case of glass)
  • The container is not eligible under the Scheme
  • The container refund point operator has reason to believe the container has been purchased interstate
  • The container refund point operator has reason to believe the container has already been redeemed or has been deposited from any kerbside recycling operator
  • If a person refuses to complete a declaration when asked to do so by the container refund point.

Furthermore, some smaller container refund points may not be able to process large volumes of containers.

How does the Scheme work?

Members of the public will be able to exchange eligible empty containers for a 10 cent refund at authorised container refund points, or they can donate them at authorised donation points set up by local community groups or charities which would then be entitled to receive the 10 cent refund.

Containers can be returned by individuals or organisations and any number of containers can be returned at one time, providing that the given container refund point has capacity to accept them.

What about eligible containers that I choose to put in my kerbside recycling bin – who receives the refund on those?

Any eligible containers placed in kerbside recycling bins will be redeemed by the kerbside recycling operator (usually on behalf of the local council).

Who runs the Container Refund Scheme?

The Queensland Parliament passed the Waste Reduction and Recycling Amendment Bill with bipartisan support in September 2017. It provides that the CRS will be established, managed and operated by a Product Responsibility Organisation (PRO).

The Queensland Government appointed Container Exchange as the PRO. Container Exchange is an entity established for the purpose of undertaking the PRO role. Under legislation, it will be governed by a board with an independent chair, three independent directors and representatives from the beverage industry; and will carry out its activities not for the profit or gain of its members.

The PRO’s responsibilities include (but are not limited to) ensuring the product stewardship of beverage manufacturers by collecting funds from beverage manufacturers (which are required by legislation to fund the costs of the CRS), contracting with Container Refund Point Operators and other service providers to deliver the CRS.

What happens to containers once they are returned to a collection point?

Containers deposited at a donation point will be transported to a nearby container refund point, where the donation point will receive the refund amount for each container.

Containers deposited at a container refund point will be sorted by material type, and prepared for collection and transportation to a processing centre, where the materials are tightly compacted and prepared for recycling. Containers are then sold via an online auction platform into domestic and export markets to an approved recycler where the material is recycled into new materials or back into beverage containers.

Who is Container Exchange?

Container Exchange was founded to apply for the role of the Product Responsibility Organisation under the Queensland Container Refund Scheme.

Container Exchange will be a not-for-profit entity (application currently pending) that is solely focused on achieving the aims of the CRS – reducing beverage container litter and fostering job opportunities in recycling by working closely with local businesses, social enterprises and community groups.

Now that Container Exchange has been appointed as the Product Responsibility Organisation by Government, one of the next steps will be the appointment of an independent chair and three independent directors onto Container Exchange’s Board to govern Container Exchange’s operations and performance.

To demonstrate the beverage industry’s commitment to the Container Refund Scheme’s objectives, representatives from the beverage industry will also be appointed to Container Exchange Board.

To assist in getting Container Exchange up and running, Coca-Cola Amatil and Lion have acted as founding members to fund the mobilisation costs of Container Exchange.

Does my container need to have a label or barcode in order for me to return it?

If you choose to return your container to a reverse vending machine, then your container will need to have a barcode.  The reverse vending machine will read the barcode to ensure the container is eligible to be returned.

If you return your container to any other type of container refund point, then your container must be visually recognisable as an eligible container, which includes that it must be a registered product for the purpose of the Scheme.  Whether a label is required for this purpose will depend on the product design. Acceptance of products without labels will be at the discretion of the container refund point.

What is a container refund point?

Container refund points are locations operated by businesses or organisations where members of the public can return eligible empty beverage containers in exchange for the refund amount of 10 cents per container.

Operators of container refund points will be responsible for:

  • Collecting, counting and sorting of collected containers
  • Paying refund amounts to members of the public
  • Sorting and preparing materials for collection by Container Exchange or one of its nominated service providers for further processing and recycling.

In addition to the above day-to-day responsibilities, container refund point operators will be the face of the Queensland Container Refund Scheme and will be expected to provide appropriate levels of customer service.

Will the Scheme affect the price of the beverages I buy?

Beverage manufacturers that sell beverages in eligible containers will be required to fund the cost of the Scheme, including the refund amounts paid, as well as operating costs such as costs associated with collecting, sorting, counting and transporting collected materials. To cover their costs, beverage manufacturers may choose to increase the price of their products to retailers. This will be a decision for each beverage manufacturer individually.

Members of the public will have the opportunity to recoup part of any price increases by exchanging containers for the 10 cent refund.

Do I need to sort my glass containers by colour?

No. Glass collected by container refund points does not have to be sorted by colour.

How do I become a container refund point?

Container Exchange is currently running a Request for Proposal process to appoint container refund point operators, Logistics Providers and Processing Providers to deliver the Queensland Container Refund Scheme. Proposals were due in on 5 March 2018.

Interested businesses and organisations that missed this deadline are invited to email Container Exchange at: tenders@containerexchange.com.au with their business details and location(s) to register their interest in future opportunities.

Can I choose to donate my eligible container for someone else to collect the refund?

Yes. You can collect the refund yourself or choose to donate it to a donation point run by a participating community group, not-for-profit, school or charity to help them raise funds.

Container refund points may also provide the opportunity for you to donate your refund amount to a community group, not-for-profit, school or charity that they have partnered with.

How many eligible container material types are there?

There are seven main categories of eligible container materials. These are:

  • Glass
  • Polyethylene terephthalate (PET)
  • High-density polyethylene (HDPE)
  • Aluminium
  • Steel
  • Liquid paper board
  • Other plastics.

What is a donation point?

Donation points are similar to container refund points except that they are run by charities and community or social enterprise groups. A 10 cent refund is not available at donation points. Instead containers may be donated to the charity or community group which will be then entitled to receive the 10 cent refund for each container directly.

I live in a remote or regional area of Queensland – how can I participate in the Scheme?

Container Refund Points are proposed to be established across Queensland including in remote and regional areas. The establishment of Container Refund Points is currently subject to a competitive tender process. The location and type of Container Refund Points will be available via the Scheme website prior to launch.

Do container refund points need to sort containers by material type?

Container refund points must sort containers into each material type. The exception to this is if the processing provider relaxes the requirement at the container refund point on the basis that the Processing provider will sort at its processing centre.

How do I become a donation point?

The process for registering to become a donation point has not been finalised at this time. Organisations that are interested in operating a donation point are invited to email Container Exchange at: tenders@containerexchange.com.au with their organisations details to register their interest in becoming a donation point.

My business manufactures beverages - how will the Scheme affect me?

Beverage manufacturers are impacted by the Scheme in a number of ways and may be required by law to contribute to the costs of the Scheme. It is critically important that you understand the range of obligations and the likely financial impact on your business. 

How will the public know which containers are eligible containers?

Prior to the Scheme commencement date, Container Exchange, in partnership with the Queensland Government, will undertake an extensive marketing and community awareness campaign. This will include information about which containers are eligible to be exchanged for the 10 cent refund. 

Please visit the Scheme website for further information.

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