South Australian Deposit History



South Australia has a long history of recycling beverage containers.

Containers being pressed on site at a depot
Beer bottle deposits and collections commenced in 1897, and in later years container return systems were introduced by industry.

Soft drink and brewery beverages were packed in refillable bottles embraced by an ethos to re-use and recycle containers. This was economic and saved natural resources. In more recent years advancement in technologies and manufacturing processes have led to the introduction of non-refillable (one trip) containers. These new products including PET plastic, are lightweight, save transport and double handling costs, and, do not require large volumes of water for washing prior to refilling.

Once introduced, one trip, convenience beverage containers, rapidly penetrated the South Australian market without the instigation of voluntary return mechanisms, and these small containers quickly became a large and very visible component of the litter stream.

Container Deposit Legislation was introduced into State Parliament in 1976 principally to reduce littering and encourage recycling. A value added benefit was that aluminum cans and glass bottles were also collected in large volumes and recycled. In latter years stronger emphasis has been placed on resource recovery.

South Australia is among the world leaders in beverage container recovery and this record is the envy of other States of Australia and has placed South Australia far ahead of the recovery percentage targeted by the Australian and New Zealand Environment Conservation Council (ANZECC).

The Northern Territory introduced Deposit Legislation and now New South Wales has announced that it will introduce a system from July 2017. Canberra will commence on the same timeline as N.S.W. This good news was recently followed by Queensland announcing that it will introduce a scheme in 2018.