Victoria’s Container Refund Scheme – Report Card

Victoria’s 10cent container refund scheme has been operating for 6 months and the first review of its operations has been released today.

"Our review acknowledges there are inevitably teething problems in the early stages, but we are very concerned about a systemic issue that has arisen which could harm consumer convenience to refund points and thus the success of the scheme.  This involves reliance on over-the-counter (OTC) return points, especially in the Northern Zone, operated by Visy.  They have a multitude of problems and consumers will be the losers,’’ said Jeff Angel, Executive Director of the Total Environment Centre, which undertook the review.

"The vast majority of return points in the Visy region are OTCs, while in contrast the Western Zone serviced by Tomra/Cleanaway has a majority of reverse vending machines which are faster, have longer opening hours and are more accurate - delivering better, modern service especially in high population metro and regional areas. The OTCs should at best be temporary arrangements, but we see no indication, this will be the case. The Visy OTC numbers have grown to well over half of all of its refund points.’’  

‘’The government and Scheme Operator may wish to focus on gross return point numbers in their media, but this disguises a serious structural problem they should urgently address,” Mr Angel said.   

OTCs experience many challenges due to:

  • limited opening hours
  • not accepting all types of containers (e.g. only accepting cans, not bottles)
  • rejecting any containers at all on certain days / when at capacity
  • refusal to deal with containers when working on other priorities (e.g. serving customers in service stations or bottleshops)
  • limited signage 

Further for a number of OTC return points, that appear as active on the VicReturn locations website (, these:

  • were not operating correctly
  • did not exist
  • showed an incorrect address on the location map
  • were closed

The Review contains a number of recommendations (see below) and the full report can be found here.

Total Environment Centre has carried out several reviews of the container refund schemes operating in the various states and first National review.


  • Enact more transparency with regard to Zone Operator obligations, i.e. numbers, distribution, opening hours and format of return points
  • An immediate shift toward more efficient and convenient return points and away from OTC’s to deliver equity of the consumer experience and access across the entire network 
  • Upgrade communications about how to make donations to charities; and improve transparency regarding the choice of direct charity partners 
  • Regular online public reporting of scheme outcomes, including numbers of return points and material recovery rates
  • Develop and publish a strategic plan during 2024  
  • Participate in overall national scheme reforms, including glass wine and spirit containers as eligible containers and a managed increase in the refund value
  • Adopt an 85% recovery target (as in QLD and WA)

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