The Interesting State-By-State Recycling Practises In Australia

By AWD Digital

All over Australia, state governments have implemented many initiatives designed to inspire waste reduction. One of the most effective ways to reduce waste overall, as we know, is recycling – whether it’s by using the right bin or contacting scrap metal buyers. Today, we’re exploring some of the recycling initiatives available in each state, and how they are benefiting the local environments.

Recycling in Australia

South Australia

One of the most successful recycling initiatives practised in South Australia is the container deposit scheme. Introduced as an official legislation in 1977, the container deposit legislation (CDL) aims to reduce litter by paying people to return it. So far in South Australia, the CDL has been extremely successful, with an overall beverage container return rate of 79.9%.

Specifically, consumers may return certain containers to collection depots for what is usually a 10c refund on the item. This incentive to recycle not only means that everyday consumers are more likely to recycle, but it also means that if someone comes across an empty container on the street, they will benefit from picking it up and returning it to a depot. This principle is known as the ‘polluter pays’ concept, since it is the polluter who ultimately misses out on the benefit of the refund.

These are just some examples of containers you can return to a depot in South Australia for a refund:

  • Beer bottles
  • Soft drink cans
  • Juice boxes
  • Water bottles

South Australia was the first state to introduce this legislation, however, other Australian states have recognised its value and started to follow suit. Hopefully, it won’t be long until each state has its own CDL, making the legislation a national standard.


Western Australia

In Western Australia, much of the discussion around recycling is centred on raising awareness. To help residents and businesses improve their recycling habits, the WA has introduced a mobile app known as ‘Recycle Right’. With a matching campaign, the Recycle Right app aims to:

  • Help people understand which bin to place their items in, using an A-Z searchable database of materials
  • Educate people about what happens at the recycling facility
  • Provide tips and tricks on reducing, reusing and recycling
  • Help people find their nearest disposal facilities.


Northern Territory

The Northern Territory introduced a container deposit scheme (CDS) in 2011 that is very similar to the one practised in SA, where consumers can return containers to local depots for a refund.

The City of Darwin Council is also planning to move towards a “plastic-free future”. From January 1 2019, single-use plastics will officially be banned from all Council events, on Council land and in Council buildings. Some examples of single-use plastics that will be banned include:

  • Helium balloons
  • Plastic cups and cutlery
  • Straws

The City of Darwin Council hopes to have phased out single-use plastics by the end of next year, hopefully inspiring other councils and states to join in on the ban.



According to the Queensland Government, Queenslanders use almost 3 billion beverage containers every year. This statistic has very recently inspired the implementation of yet another container refund scheme. The scheme will officially commence on November 1 2018.

The Queensland Government is also planning to introduce a waste disposal levy, which is proposed to commence on March 4 2019. The levy will cover an area that includes around 90% of Queensland’s population. Under the proposed changes, you may be charged for disposing anything from general waste, to construction and demolition waste.


New South Wales

NSW also has a container refund scheme titled ‘Return and Earn’, which began rolling out officially in 2017.

Apart from this, however, the New South Wales Government also runs a campaign called ‘Waste Less, Recycle More’, which has a few key goals:

  • To encourage residents and businesses to rethink their recycling and waste habits
  • To make it easier for residents and business to recycle correctly
  • To improve recycling regulations by enforcing waste dumping laws.



Rethink Waste’ is a statewide campaign initiative in Tasmania that is also more focused on awareness and rethinking how we use and reuse waste. According to Rethink Waste, there is a recurring issue of confusion about what is and what is not recyclable; a lot of recyclable household waste still ends up being sent to landfill. Rethink Waste aims to change this, by providing a number of informative resources that residents and business can access online.



Sustainability Victoria is currently an ongoing initiative that also raises awareness and provides advice on recycling. There are also a number of businesses in Victoria that are dedicated to recycling particular items, such as batteries or scrap metal.

Do you live in Victoria? Dispose of your metal waste in a smarter way with Metal Men Recycling. As scrap metal buyers, we pay you to pick up any scrap metal you find in your home or at your business (yes – that includes soft drink cans and stainless steel)! Give our team of scrap metal buyers a call on 03 5941 6677 today to find out more.

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Find us at: 18 Drovers Place, Pakenham VIC 3810