South Australian Deposit History


South Australia has had a long history of recycling beverage containers, going as far back as the late 1800s, when local beer and soft drink manufacturers had their own form of voluntary recycling and return in order to recover and refill their refillable bottles.  

Oregon in the USA passed the first bottle bill (also known as a deposit law) in 1971, requiring refundable deposits on all beer and soft drink containers. It was this piece of legislation that would provide the springboard for South Australia’s own ‘bottle bill’.

Building on the history of recycling and the Oregon model, South Australian Parliament passed the Beverage Container Act 1975, which commenced operation in January 1977. The Legislation was principally introduced  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 later 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).

There have been a number of significant changes to the container deposit scheme since its inception largely relating to the types of beverages/containers covered. The refund amount increased from 5 to 10 cents in 2008. This led to more South Australians participating, resulting in less litter on our streets and less waste sent to landfill.

For 35 years, South Australia was the only state with container deposit legislation.  

In January 2012, the Northern Territory introduced a cash for containers scheme, based on the SA model.  

The New South Wales container deposit scheme launched in late 2017.  Queensland's container deposit scheme is schedule to start on 1 July 2018, with the Australian Capital Territory also introducing their scheme in 2018.  Western Australia has also committed to implementing a container deposit scheme.