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The InCENTive to Recycle:
A Container Deposit System for New Zealand

A new report by Envision shows that we could stop nearly 1 billion drink containers going to landfill every year if a refundable deposit of 10 cents was put on all drink containers.

Ratepayers would save $14 million each year in disposal costs by recycling these containers instead of landfilling them.

The system proposed would only cost the beverage industry one third of a cent (0.3 cent) per container, or $6.6 million annually.

Many people can still remember taking their empty drink containers back to the store for a refund. The refund system ensured that bottles were recycled and kept off the streets and out of landfills. 88% of Australians want 10 cent container deposits introduced in Australia, and a similar proportion of New Zealanders are likely to want the same.

New Zealanders discard 890 million containers a year, which makes our beverage container recycling efforts look pathetic when compared to countries that have introduced Container Deposit Legislation (CDL). Canadians, for example, recycle 80-90% of their drink containers via CDL, while we throw away over half our containers.

Almost 50% of beverages sold are drunk away from home, and these containers are not recovered by the kerbside collections available in most towns.

The last ten years of Voluntary Accords between Government and the Packaging Industry have completely failed, with the volumes of packaging waste rising alarmingly. Lack of regulation requiring manufacturers to recover and recycle product waste means the beverage industry is getting a free ride while communities pick up the tab.

A report showing how a modern container deposit system could be introduced in New Zealand to recover and recycle the massive number of beverage containers produced and consumed here has just been released by sustainability consultants Envision New Zealand.

Waitakere City was one of the 11 councils that helped fund the study, and Mayor Bob Harvey is definitive about the necessity of CDL. He says, “Waitakere City Council overwhelmingly supports the reintroduction of Container Deposit Legislation. Nothing else has worked and we see piles and piles of packaging filling our streams, waterways and roadsides. Let’s put a refund back on packaging and resolve this problem once and for all."

Envision advocates a CDL system similar to that operating in British Columbia where Government sets the parameters of the system via legislation and industry, guided by legislation, sets up a Managing Agency to run it. Consumers would pay an extra 10 cents for every drink they purchase but would get their 10 cents back when they take the container back to a local collection depot or participating retailer.

Under this scenario Envision estimates that New Zealand would achieve:
 At least 84% recovery of all beverage containers (including tetra pak and other containers that aren’t currently recycled)
 At least 67,000 tonnes of beverage containers diverted from landfill (saving ratepayers approximately $14 million annually)
 Reduced costs to councils for kerbside collections
 Significantly less litter on roadsides and beaches and in stormwater
 Better financial returns for recyclers from increased quantities of recycled materials and less contamination
 1,000-2,000 entry-level to managerial-level jobs spread throughout the country
 New business opportunities for recyclers (private sector and community) who can set up collection depots
 An income stream for voluntary and social service groups who can collect containers for refunds – and also set up and run collection depots

The collection system would be based, to a large degree, on existing facilities run by recyclers, councils, social service groups and local businesses – all of whom could run profitable collection depots like those operating in South Australia. Retailers could also set up collection facilities but it would not be mandatory.

The system would be almost self-funding with industry using unredeemed deposits, interest earned on deposits, and the sale of recovered materials to fund the system. An administration fee of a third of a cent (0.3 cent) per container would be paid by beverage manufacturers to cover the remaining costs, which may not even need to be passed on to consumers.

The beverage industry has shown it doesn’t want to take responsibility for the waste it produces. Envision Manager Warren Snow says “It’s time for beverage companies to take responsibility for the waste resulting from their products. We need to get these drink containers off the streets, out of our waterways, and out of our landfills. New Zealand needs to look at ways to incentivise recycling, and future-proof the beverage industry now.”

The Green Party’s new Waste Minimisation Bill which is currently before a Select Committee gives New Zealanders the opportunity to make beverage producers accountable with the simple mechanism of a 10 cent refundable deposit.

CDL is highly popular and effective wherever it operates around the world. It is a well proven form of Product Stewardship that could readily be introduced as the first mandatory Product Stewardship programme of the Waste Minimisation Bill.

For the full report see the attached pdf or go to www.envision-nz.com'


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