You’ve probably noticed over the holidays that NSW has introduced a refund scheme on various drink containers and there have been a few media stories about the Reverse Vending Machines.

The details of how it all works are set out in Schedule 1 of the Waste Avoidance and Resource Recovery Amendment (Container Deposit Scheme) Act 2016 (“CDS Act”). The CDS has the admirable aim of reducing and dealing with waste and promoting the “recovery, reuse and recycling of empty beverage containers” (s19). However, the devil is in the detail. Both “beverage” and “container” are defined terms (ss 21 and 22) but both have exclusions provided by the regulation.

CDS Regulation 4 is definition of “excluded beverages” which are (a) milk (other than flavoured milk); (b) cordial; (c) concentrated fruit or vegetable juice; and (d) registered heath tonics. Cordial and health tonics are defined terms.

CDS Regulation 5 deals with “excluded containers”. The short version is:

  • any container smaller than 150mL or bigger than 3L is excluded;
  • unless it’s a glass container designed to contain wine or “spirituous liquor” (both of which are defined terms) in which case it is excluded regardless of size;
  • containers for flavoured milk or fruit and vegetable juice (or a mixture of the two which contains at least 90% juice) are excluded if they’re bigger than 1L; and
  • containers made of cardboard, plastic or foil (or any combination of the three) which are designed to contain 1L or more of wine, wine based beverage (separately defined term) or water (including mineral water and spring water) are also excluded.

Is it just me or would there have been an easier way to draft this to make it clear it applies to plastic soft drink bottles and smaller non-alcoholic glass bottles? I’m also thinking the flavoured milk lobby must be a thing?

Creative commons acknowledgment for the photograph.

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