Victoria finally has a can-do attitude to recycling

Posted on 17 Oct 2023

By Greg Thom, journalist, Institute of Community Directors Australia

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Charities and community groups in Victoria are finally on the verge of joining the rest of the nation by being able to fundraise through recycling.

Victoria’s long awaited Container Deposit Scheme (CDS) will go live on November 1.

The program will enable participating organisations to raise cash through recycling eligible drink containers.

These include most aluminium, glass, plastic, and liquid paperboard (carton) drink containers of between 150ml and three litres.

A similar scheme in NSW has returned more than $47 million to charities and community groups via donations and fees since its launch in 2017.

CDS graphic

To fundraise via the CDS, groups such as charities, schools, sports clubs, and community groups must first register at the Donation Partner Registry.

They are then required to activate their registration with one of three participating "zone operators" who handle local refund points throughout the state – Visy, Return-It or TOMRA Cleanaway.

Refunds of 10 cents from each drink container can then be donated back to the registered charity or community group in several ways:

  • A charity other eligible organisations can become a donation partner, enabling community members to nominate where their container refunds are directed.
  • Participating organisations can collect container donations from supporters from any of the hundreds of refund points across Victoria.
  • Organisations can apply to their zone operator to directly manage a refund point themselves.

Consumers returning containers to a refund point for recycling will be able to choose to donate their refund to a participating charitable or community organisation via a zone operator app or by scanning a barcode.

CDS snip 2
Refundable containers under the CDS include most aluminium, glass, plastic, and carton drink containers of between 150ml and three litres.
“Victorian charities and community groups we have spoken to are eager to participate and excited about the opportunities CDS Vic presents.”

VicReturn CEO Jim Round said the scheme had already attracted great interest since registrations opened on October 1.

“Victorian charities and community groups we have spoken to are eager to participate and excited about the opportunities CDS Vic presents,” said Mr Round.

“At this stage, we’re focused on encouraging all Victorian charity and community groups to get involved and fundraise through CDS Vic – there is no limit to the number of organisations that can participate.”

The launch of the CDS will trigger childhood memories for Victorians old enough to recall earning pocket money from collecting discarded aluminium cans for recycling.

“Many Victorians will have fond memories of collecting and returning cans in the ‘Cash for Cans’ program – but this time, people shouldn’t crush their cans so the barcodes can be read to get a refund,” said Mr Round.

“We expect CDS Vic will also create positive memories for many Victorians for generations to come.”

A Container deposit Scheme refund point.

The launch of the CDS follows criticism Victoria has lagged behind other states in introducing a container deposit scheme.

South Australia introduced its container deposit scheme more than 45 years ago and has a return rate of 76%.

CDS bottle barcode
Look for the '10c' label on containers to check if they are eligable to be refunded for recycling.

Advocates said the refund scheme helped keep the level of beverage containers in the states litter pile to just 2.8% in 2022-2023.

More than ten billion containers have been returned for recycling since NSW introduced its popular Return and Earn scheme in 2017, reducing drink container litter volume by 54 per cent.

Mr Round said that rather than rush into introducing its own container deposit recycling scheme, Victoria has had the benefit of being able to learn from the experiences of other jurisdictions.

“That means we have a scheme tailor-made for Victoria while adopting the best features from other states.”

Mr Round said there was no closing date for organisations to register but the sooner they do so, the sooner they can start fundraising from November 1.

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