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Government announces beverage container return scheme

By Ellen O'Dwyer | 25 Sep 2019 12:32

Container Return Scheme

The Government has announced it will implement a beverage container return scheme, where consumers will get between 5-20 cents back when they recycle their drink bottles.

Associate Minister for Environment Eugenie Sage made the announcement at the WasteMINZ conference in Hamilton on Wednesday morning, saying work had begun to investigate and design the scheme.

Plastic, glass and aluminium drink containers will carry a refundable deposit, potentially between 5-20 cents each. 

Consumers will get this back when they recycle containers at a drop-off point.

"Too many beverage containers end up in landfill, on the streets, in rivers and in the ocean. Our recovery rates are only between 42 and 58 per cent," Sage said.

She said the scheme was designed to incentivise more recycling of these items.

"[Beverage containers] would again become something of value, and we would see increased opportunities recycling and new opportunities for refilling."

The cost of the deposit will be added on to the product initially, but would be returned if the consumer recycles it, she said.  

Auckland Council and Malborough District Council will carry out the project design with Government funding of nearly $1 million ($966,000) from the Waste Minimisation Fund. 

The two councils will work with the Ministry for the Environment and others including the beverage, packaging and recycling industries, councils, retailers, charitable organisations, Māori and consumer representatives. 

The design proposal will be presented to the Government by August 2020 and it is anticipated the scheme could be operational by 2022. 

Sage said the type of container collection would be decided in the design process.

It could be a reverse vending machine model - like some found in Australia - where consumers put used bottles into machines at supermarkets, or could involve collection depots or kerbside collection.

The scheme may involve a mix of these models. 

Beverage containers will be recycled and reprocessed in New Zealand, and also internationally, where Sage said there is a still a market for high quality PET plastics and aluminium. 

"It may be that high quality recyclables can be traded internationally."

Water bottles

The level of deposit on drinks containers is yet to be decided but may be between 5-20 cents.

There are at least 40 container return schemes globally, most Australian states have the schemes as do parts of Europe and the United States.

Sage said the design team will be looking at the international examples, as well as what available technologies will make the recycling as convenient as possible. 

But National Party spokesperson for the environment, Scott Simpson, said the idea for the container deposit scheme was underwhelming and had taken too long.

"Rather than implementing a tangible scheme that is actually going to address our rubbish problem, the Government has instead set up yet another working group, this time with local councils being contracted to do the work for them.

"National proposed a container deposit scheme in our Environment Discussion Document earlier this year, and when the Minister was asked if she supported it then she said it was not one of her priorities."

Simpson said he supported the implementation of the scheme, but thought the work should be done more quickly. 


Source: Stuff

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