ACT Container Deposit Scheme turns three

By Melissa Coade

Monday November 22, 2021

plastic bottles
Nearly two-thirds of ACT residents use the CDS. (Studio Empreinte/Adobe)

Three years since it launched, the Australian Capital Territory container deposit scheme (CDS) is enjoying increasing demand and is giving away free cookies and coffees to celebrate.

On Saturday the CDS offered treats to customers who returned containers to any of the four CDS cash-back depots. 

Danielle Smalley, the CEO of Exchange for Change which coordinates the scheme, said that the CDS had become an important fundraising channel for many community groups and local schools. 

“Alongside the environmental benefit of less litter and more recycling, the scheme is also delivering strong community benefits,” Smalley said.

“It’s inspiring to see the local community make the ACT Container Deposit Scheme part of their everyday life,” she added.

A recent consumer research survey found that more than 55% of territory residents aged 18 and over had participated in the CDS. More than 277.2 million containers have been returned in exchange for more than $6.3 million cash-back from the date the scheme commenced up until 30 September this year.

“Nearly two-thirds of ACT residents have ensured their drink containers avoid ending up as litter and landfill, and instead turned into a valuable recycled commodity,” Smalley said.

One of the local institutions to benefit from the fundraising feature of the scheme is the Canberra Reptile Zoo, which invests the money it gets from container returns in a special new enclosure for its star saltwater crocodile before he reaches his full size.

Retired couple Margaret and Paul McGrath have also been using proceeds from the scheme to fundraise for the charity they established in 2019, Ngunnawal Street Pantries, which assists struggling locals with food supplies. While most of their supplies are stocked with non-perishable food and clothes donations, money from the container refunds goes towards fresh food and toiletries.

David Singh, who is the managing director of ReGroup which operates the Return-It network operator for the CDS, said it was great to see the scheme having a positive impact on the ACT community. 

“We all look forward to more Canberrans participating and seeing the difference it continues to make to the ACT community and environment,” Singh said.


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