Section 68 of the Environment Protection Act 1993 requires that containers for beverages sold in South Australia must be approved by the EPA before being offered for sale at a retail outlet.
Some beverage containers remain outside of the scope of the legislation – such as glass bottles used for wine and spirits, all containers for plain milk, and large containers (more than 1 litre) for pure fruit juice and flavoured milk.
The EPA will assess the refund marking on the container and the waste management arrangement (WMA) that has been established to ensure the 10-cent refund is available upon return of the container and the container is collected for recycling.
The legislation defines a WMA as an arrangement for the collection, sorting and aggregation of containers of that class when empty and their reuse, recycling or other disposal. A contract with a super collector is a WMA, and under this contract the beverage supplier declares its South Australian sales and pays the refund and handling fee to the super collector who passes the refund on to the consumer via the collection depot.
Revocation of approvals
It is a condition of approval that an effective and appropriate WMA remain in place. If a WMA is cancelled due to failure to pay the super collector or because sales have not been declared, it may result in the approval being revoked.
Category A or Category B containers?
Category A containers are approved to be returned for refund to any outlet where that beverage is sold. Less than 1% of beverages sold in South Australia are approved for this return method, mainly because retailers are extremely reluctant to handle, store and then recycle empty beverage containers. This return method may only suit a specialist retailer that imports beverages. If you select this category, you will need to provide evidence that you have a WMA in place for the payment of refunds and the recycling of containers.
Category B containers are approved to be returned to collection depots for a 10-cent refund. The majority of beverages sold in South Australia are approved for this return method. A WMA for this return method is by way of a contractual arrangement with one of the super collectors.
The following refund markings are approved for beverage containers sold in SA:
Category A container
'10c refund at points of sale when sold in SA'
Category B container
'10c refund at collection depots when sold in SA'
'10c refund at SA/NT collection depots in State/Territory of purchase'
Note: 'SA' may be expanded to 'South Australia'.
Important note: approval cannot be granted for any other version of the refund marking other than that specified.
The numeric (10) in the statement must be a minimum of 3 mm and the wording a minimum of 1.5 mm (ie the smallest letter in the statement must not be less than 1.5 mm).
The EPA cannot advise on the refund markings to be used for containers sold in other jurisdictions which are introducing their own container deposit schemes. Please contact the relevant State Government Authority for further advice.
A collection depot is a facility or premise for the collection and handling of approved beverage containers presented for refund and includes a reverse vending machine.
Section 69 of the Act states that a person must not operate a collection depot without the approval of the Authority.
- Approval of collection depot
- Approval of collection depot ─ reverse vending machine (RVM)
- Vary an approval for a collection depot
The EPA will assess the suitability of the proposed waste management arrangement to ensure the refund is paid and the containers are aggregated for recycling.
Recyclers of South Australia (RSA) is an industry association that represents the majority of approved collection depots in South Australia.
A super collector collects, handles and delivers for reuse, recycling or other disposal, containers received from collection depots. Section 69 of the Act states that a person must not carry on business as a super collector without the approval of the EPA.
Super collectors have WMAs with beverage suppliers and collection depots.
There are currently three approved super collectors in South Australia.
A retailer is a person whose business includes selling a beverage and covers the owner of a vending machine (unless that vending machine has been leased to someone else). Retailers must ensure that beverage containers they sell have been approved by the EPA. Retailers are under no obligation to accept delivery of empty containers or pay the refund amount in exchange for delivered containers unless they sell a category A container (approved for a refund at points of sale) and it is returned for refund.
Section 69B of the Act provides penalties for retailers selling containers that are not approved containers without a refund marking or containers that retailers know do not have a WMA in place.