ACT Environment Minister Simon Corbell says Canberra would probably follow NSW into a scheme that paid people 10 cents a pop to return cans and other drinks containers.
Container deposit schemes are industry funded - paid for through a levy on the cost of drinks - and have been strongly opposed by the big drinks manufacturers and by some states, with attempts to develop a national scheme failing.
But NSW Environment Minister Rob Stokes is now designing details to take to the March state election.
On Monday, Mr Corbell asked his department to advise on the NSW plan and on whether Canberra should follow suit. He said the ACT had always supported a container deposit scheme in principle and if NSW moved to adopt one, that would be the trigger needed in Canberra.
"The really decisive factor here is NSW," he said. "NSW is a very large jurisdiction. It is a very large market for drinks manufacturers and obviously it's the jurisdiction that we have immediate physical proximity to ...
"We'll enter discussions, seek further information from NSW and look at our options, but clearly this does put container deposit legislation on the agenda and we'll need to look at implementing it here in the ACT if NSW does proceed."
A container deposit scheme has been operating in South Australia for many years. There,10 cents is added to the cost of drinks and people who return cans to a collection depot receive 10 cents a can.
Mr Corbell pointed to the fundraising opportunities for scouts, guides and sports groups.
"I can see real benefits in a container deposit scheme in the ACT in terms of community groups having the benefit of fundraising activities and I can also see the benefits in reducing public litter," he said.
NSW is looking at refunds for glass, aluminium and plastic containers of up to one litre, with refunds available through "reverse vending machines" in public spaces and at community recycling centres. People could give their containers to schools or charities to redeem. Containers could also be recycled as usual in household recycling but in that case the council would redeem them and get the refund. The obligation would be on drinks manufacturers to add the amount to the price of each drink and provide the refund.
The South Australian government says its scheme has resulted in an 80 per cent return rate of drinks containers. In 2013-14 nearly 583 million containers were returned, with more than $58 million in refunds, according to the state's Environmental Protection Authority.