How not to do a bottle deposit scheme

The ACT commenced the new (financial) year with a new container deposit scheme (I note that there is an existing thread about the failings of the NSW scheme). My wife and I have been saving our bottles for about six (6) weeks, in anticipation of handing them in for our 10c here and 10c there.


  1. There are nine (9) deposit centres. Only two (2) of these are designated ‘bulk depots’, and will give cash back immediately for bottles. Those two are located in the industrial precincts - well out of the way of most Canberrans.
  2. Unless one goes to one of the two bulk depots, one has to enter one’s personal details - including bank account for the refund - in a private company’s website. (Of course it’s outsourced - why should I be surprised?)
  3. When one starts to read the fine print, one learns that it is not so fine if you go to one of the seven (7) relatively easily accessible depots:
    3.1. One may only return bottles in ‘lightweight transparent bags’. (Actually, another area of the scheme describes them as ‘durable translucent bags, like the regular kitchen tidy bags you can buy from the shops’. Seriously, you have to buy and use plastic bags in a recycling program?)
    3.2. Each bag must get a sticker, produced at the return depot by a ‘kiosk’.
    3.3. One may return only four (4) bags full of bottles on any one day.
    3.4. The bag must be clear so the contents are visible.
    3.5. Etc.

In summary, the bottles we have collected are going into our recycling bin - this scheme is more effort than it is worth.

My memory of the South Australian scheme - which has been in place since 1977 - is that one could return bottles to most shops (it appears that the scheme has shrunk somewhat since its hey-day); I am surprised and somewhat disgusted that local supermarkets are not similarly given the responsibility to deal with this relatively small amount of recyclable waste.

The ACT model is clearly designed to cause no difficulties at all for retailers, placing all onus on the participating charities and the public. I will be unsurprised when it is declared a failure within a couple of years, and we see bottles once more thriving in the wild.


Only a bureaucrat could implement such a system.
The NSW system isn’t much better.

Why didn’t they just call SA and adopt their scheme?


A nice opportunity for entrepreneurial businesses like Dan Murphy’s though. … I buy Magner’s Cider from Ireland by the case. This cider comes in one-pint bottles, and there are a dozen bottles to the case. Before the bottle-return scheme started, Murphy’s (owned by Woolworths) charged $70.00/case for it. After the scheme had commenced the price went up to $77.00 – a 10% hike. I was told that the rise was because of the new bottle-return scheme.

Now, the bottles – if they are returnable at all, about which I’m not yet clear – will bring a refund of 10 cents each, or a total of $1.20 for a case – not the $7 ascribed by Murphys. Who pays all the extra? I do. Who pockets most of that extra? Murphy’s does. And if I don’t return the bottles because it’s altogether too much trouble (see earlier posts), then Murphy’s pockets the whole lot. Unfair? Of course. Would you expect anything else from Woolworths? Probably not.

Now, as to the scheme itself, and whether or not one-pint bottles are returnable at all, who know? One pint is 568 ml (which is how the Magners bottles are labelled). So they come in size between small 330ml drink bottles (on which a refund is available) and ordinary wine bottles, on which no refund is available. Where does the 568 ml bottle fit. I have no idea, and frankly, I can’t be bothered finding out.

The official site at list six classes of containers, some plastic and some glass. Of the six, no less than five attract NO refund. And in another year there will be no less than a whopping 18 return points operating – across the whole of the ACT. Wow!

Some refund scheme. :frowning_face:


I am fairly confident they don’t attract any form of refund. It is all part of some bureaucrat’s - er - nocturnal emissions!