You Can Now Exchange Empty Bottles for Cash Thanks to Queensland's New Container Refund Scheme

Launching on November 1, the scheme lets you swap your plastic, aluminium, glass, plastic and steel containers for 10c — here's how it works.
Sarah Ward
October 25, 2018

Brisbanites, your recycling routine is about to change, and, as well as being great for the planet, it's good for your wallet. Come Thursday, November 1, Queensland's Containers for Change refund scheme will come into effect, letting you exchange your used containers for a ten-cent refund per eligible vessel.

Announced last year, it's the state's latest effort in the war on waste, after phasing out single-use plastic bags on July 1. And while similar schemes exist in most of the country — in South Australia, the Northern Territory, New South Wales and the ACT, with SA's dating back four decades — it's a case of better late than never. Apparently almost three billion beverage containers have been used by Queenslanders this year alone, so here's everything that you need to know.


While we've all become accustomed to popping our empty drink containers into our yellow-topped wheelie bins, Containers for Change wants you to break that habit. From Thursday, November 1, you'll be able to take your beverage containers to one of Queensland's 230 refund sites instead (more on where they are below).

The container refund scheme (CRS) does include a few rules, however. Queenslanders are asked to remove the lids from their containers before taking them to a collection site, and to make sure they don't contain sand or dirt, paint, petrol, noxious substances. You don't need to rinse them, but they do need to be empty.

The CRS is also only open to containers purchased within Queensland.


Most aluminium, glass, plastic, steel and liquid paperboard beverage containers that range between 150ml and three litres in size can be recycled. To be eligible, they need to display the refund mark — many of them already will, but the ones that don't have until December 1, 2019 to add it.

That said, there are some exceptions. You can't get a refund on any containers that held plain milk, or concentrated or undiluted cordial or syrup. The CRS also won't accept glass wine or pure spirits bottles of any size, or containers over one litre that held flavoured milk, pure fruit or vegetable juice or cask water.

These containers can still be recycled through kerbside collection. And if you accidentally (or purposefully) place CRS-eligble containers in your wheelie bin, the kerbside operator and/or local council will be able to collect the ten-cent refund.


Container Exchange, the organisation managing the CRS, has set up 230 refund sites across the state. They include over-the-counter depots, drop-off sites (where you can leave already bagged and tagged containers), reverse vending machines that collect your containers and spit out refunds, and mobile and pop-up refund points.

In Brisbane, the spread of sites spans the entire city, including depots located in West End, Geebung, Seventeen Mile Rocks, Salisbury, Tingalpa, Creastmead, Yerongpilly, Banyo, St Lucia, Darra, Samford Valley and Kedron.


To receive the ten-cent-per-container refund, you have several options. Some sites offer cash, but for those that process the payment via EFT, you'll need to sign up for a scheme account.

You can also opt to not only do the environment a solid, but someone in need as well. The CRS allows you to donate your refund to a community group, not-for-profit or school, either at the collection point, or by taking your containers to a drop-off site run by a registered group or charity.

Queensland's drink container refund scheme comes into effect on Thursday, November 1. For more information, visit the Containers for Change website.

Published on October 25, 2018 by Sarah Ward
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