Brewers urged to prepare for NSW container deposit scheme deadline

The NSW Container Deposit Scheme transition period is set to end in just over two months and brewers need to make sure that their cans are registered with the NSW Environment Protection Authority.

In the run up to the “Return and Earn” deadline after the two-year transition period, brewers have raised questions regarding the technicalities of the scheme, such as the use of on-package stickers and where limited edition and seasonal release cans stand in the scheme.

According to a representative of the EPA, brewers can use stickers on their containers to meet the refund marking requirement if they have not changed their labelling in time. However stickers should not cover or obscure the barcode or the container may be rejected at a return point, they said.

Some brewers have reported difficulties with machines accepting cans with stickers on, but the EPA said that it does not have any reports of eligible cans being rejected because of a refund mark sticker, and said that other flat stickers on a can should not cause the can to be rejected at a reverse vending machine or automated depot. Any brewers having issues with this should email

Update: We previously wrote that brewers do not need to register a can if it’s limited edition or a seasonal run if the cans are the same. The EPA got back to us last night to clarify:

“All containers must be approved before they can be supplied in NSW, regardless of whether they are seasonal or limited edition. The EPA does not hold information on how many limited edition cans have been approved because we do not require suppliers to specify this when applying for an approval. This does not mean that brewers are not required to apply for an approval if they have a seasonal or limited edition product.”

All container approval holders must ensure that their containers have the required refund marking and barcode, they said.Suppliers, including distributors and retailers, cannot supply or offer for sale eligible containers that do not have the refund marking.

The Environment Protection Authority in NSW said that drinks container litter makes up 44 per cent of all litter in the state and costs $162 million to manage.

Victoria remains the only state without a container deposit scheme, earning criticism from the federal government.

South Australia was the first state to set up a container deposit scheme in the 1970’s. The Northern Territory, New South Wales, the ACT and Queensland followed suit (the latter two implementing theirs in 2018) whilst Western Australia and Tasmania also have plans for similar schemes starting in 2020.

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