If you sell an eligible beverage container it must be approved by the EPA before being distributed or sold in South Australia.
Some beverage containers remain outside of the scope of the legislation – such as glass bottles used for wine (made from grapes) 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 both the refund marking on the container and the suitability of 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.
Waste management arrangement (WMA)
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 then passes the refund on to the consumer via the collection depot. The WMA must be submitted to the EPA when an application is submitted for approval
Revocation of approvals
It is a condition of approval that an effective and appropriate WMA remain in place. If a WMA is cancelled (for example if the supplier does not comply with its obligations with according to the contract between the parties), it may result in the approval being revoked and the beverages being removed from sale at retail outlets.
Category A and 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 an appropriate and effective WMA in place for the payment of refunds and the recycling of containers.
Category B containers are approved to be returned to any of the South Australian 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 and any of these may be used 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'.
or the following refund marking which can be used in all jurisdictions operating a container deposit scheme:
'10c refund at collection depots/points in participating State/Territory of purchase'
Only approved refund markings can be used on beverage containers. Incorrect versions may result in beverages being removed from sale at retailers.
Size of refund marking
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).
Refer to the Guidelines for Beverage Container Approval for more information on refund markings.
Distributor or retailer
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 displaying the Category A refund marking) and it is returned for refund.
Section 69B of the Environment Protection Act 1993 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.
Collection depot operator
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 Environment Protection Act 1993 states that a person must not operate a collection depot without the approval of the Authority.
The EPA will assess an application for approval of a collection depot but recommends before an application is submitted, that applicants ensure they have relevant development approval to operate at the intended site. Furthermore, to be able to accept empty eligible containers for a refund, a suitable waste management arrangement (WMA) must be established. In most instances, this is a contractual arrangement with the super collectors. Please refer to the guidelines for more information
- Approval of collection depot
- 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.
A one-off fee applies for collection depots must be approved by the EPA which, on application, will consider what arrangement is in place to ensure consumers are paid the full refund amount and the containers are collected for recycling. You should also obtain the required development approval before applying for approval to operate as a collection depot.
A one-off fee applies for the EPA to assess and process your application. Please refer to the guidelines and application form.
Recyclers of South Australia (RSA) is an industry association that represents the majority of approved collection depots in South Australia.
There are currently 4 approved super collectors in South Australia, of which 3 are operating in the scheme. Super collectors have contractual arrangements (waste management arrangements or WMAs) with the beverage suppliers. Under that WMA, the super collectors receive the deposits and handling fees from suppliers, so that a refund is available on approved beverage containers and the containers are collected for recycling and reuse.
Super collectors also have WMAs with collection depots and reimburse depots for the refunds paid and provide a handling fee for that service.
Only 2 super collectors – Statewide Recycling and Marine Stores – operate facilities to physically handle and process the containers that are returned to collection depots for a refund. The beverage containers, already sorted into material types at depots (eg aluminium, glass, PET, HDPE and Liquid paper board) are then sold to end processors.
A super collector collects, handles and delivers for reuse, recycling or other disposal, containers received from collection depots. Section 69 of the EP Act states that a person must not carry on business as a super collector without the approval of the EPA.