Amendments to Victoria’s Planning Provisions and all planning schemes in Victoria have been made to support the facilitation of essential infrastructure for Victoria’s recently introduced Container Deposit Scheme (CDS). The CDS, which begins next year, requires operators to establish infrastructure such as automated collection points throughout Victoria promptly in appropriate locations, and with minimal offsite impacts. It will also enable Victorians to recycle used drink containers for a 10-cent refund.

Amendment VC227 (Amendment) was approved by the Minister for Planning on 14 November 2022.

The Amendment is part of a suite of initiatives, including the four-bin household waste system, identified in the Victorian Government’s ‘Recycling Victoria: A New Economy Policy’ (DELWP, February 2020) (Recycling Victoria Policy), which seeks to address the State’s embattled waste and recycling sector by transforming how the State uses, reuses, repairs and recycles materials.

Amendment VC227: what has changed?

The following clauses of the planning scheme have been amended:

  • 19.03-5S (Waste and resource recovery) by encouraging the development of CDS facilities and identifying the Recycling Victoria Policy as a relevant policy document;
  • 73.03 (Land use terms) definitions to include a new land use term for ‘Automated collection point’, nested under the term transfer station; and
  • 73.04-5 (Nesting diagrams) to include automated collection point as a nested term under transfer station.

‘Automated collection point’ is defined at cl 73.03 as:

A building with a gross floor area of no more than 100 square metres, used as an automated collection point as defined in the Circular Economy (Waste Reduction and Recycling) Act 2021.

In turn, the definition of ‘Automated collection point’ at s 75 of the Circular Economy Act means:

a refund collection point that consists of a machine or other device from which refund amounts can be obtained by an operation that involves inserting empty containers into the device, whether or not some other action is required to activate the device.

The Amendment also amends the provisions for most planning zones (including the Mixed Use Zone, General Residential Zone, Commercial Zone, and Industrial Zone) to make an ‘Automated collection point’ a section 1 (permit not required) land use if it meets the requirements in cl 52.13 and the gross floor area of all buildings is 50 square metres or less.

In addition to exempting the need for a permit for an automated collection point where the above requirements are met, clause 52.13 exempts an application to use and develop an automated collection point or a transfer station from the notice, decision and review rights in the Planning and Environment Act 1987 (Vic). For this exemption to apply to a transfer station, it must be used only to collect and recover materials for the CDS, located in an industrial zone, and must not abut a commercial, residential, rural zone or Urban Growth Zone.

Supporting regulations

The CDS will be supported by the Circular Economy (Waste Reduction and Recycling) (Container Deposit Scheme) Regulations 2022 (CDS Regulations), which came into effect on 27 September 2022. The CDS Regulations have been developed to support Part 6 of the Circular Economy Act by outlining the detailed administrative and operational aspects of the CDS.

Broadly, the draft regulations cover eligible and exempt beverage containers, amount and payment of the refund, conditions of appointment for the scheme coordinator and network operators, labelling, annual assessment reports, performance and reporting requirements, payment by beverage suppliers, applying for a landfill disposal exemption, refund refusal, and bulk deposit identification.

Further information about the CDS Regulations can be found in the Regulatory impact statement (May 2022).

Takeaways from the Amendment

In addition to exempting a planning permit for the use and development of CDS infrastructure where certain requirements are met, the Amendment will streamline the planning process for larger resource recovery and transfer stations that are part of Victoria’s CDS.

It is important for proponents to note that CDS infrastructure that is over 50sqm in size will still require a permit for an automated collection point, and, if over 100sqm, will instead be treated as a transfer station or other industrial use.