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March 3, 2008

Wellington News

Students to Get 10c per Empty in ‘Bottle Buy-back’

Victoria University students will have the chance to get rid of their Orientation empties and earn a few dollars if they take part in a ‘bottle buy-back’ event in the Kelburn Campus Quad this Friday 7 March.

Ten cents will be offered for every glass or plastic bottle and aluminium can brought to the Quad during the two-hour lunchtime event, starting at 12 noon.

Organised by Gecko, the University's environment group, the event aims to demonstrate the feasibility of container-deposit levy legislation, its positive effects on our environment, and the level of public support for the model.

A similar event held by Otago University students last year collected more than 7200 containers in a couple of hours – and provided students with handy cash which – presumably – was spent on textbooks.

Wellington City Council has contributed $650 towards this Friday's event – enough to pay for 6500 bottles and cans.

"This Bottle Buy Back creates an incentive for students to turn waste into cash and, more importantly, it will demonstrate to New Zealanders that there is a more effective method for recovering recyclable drink containers than what we currently use," says Gecko co-leader Phillip Barker.

"Victoria University already has recycling facilities, but the container-deposit levy legislation model creates an incentive which increases the overall amount and quality of material recycled, and CDL provides a great mechanism for recognising recyclables as a valuable resource."

Independent soft-drink company Foxton Fizz, which is helping to establish a new Environmental Beverage Association, is supporting the student Buy Back event.

"The container-deposit system fits with our philosophy," says Jeremy Randerson of Foxton Fizz. "The students are showing great initiative in demonstrating how we can reduce the impact packaging has on our environment."

Also promoting recycling and the CDL model is Wellington City Council's Waste Minimisation Team and the Victoria University Student Association.

Wellington City Council's Environment Portfolio Leader, Councillor Celia Wade-Brown, says the Council strongly supports CDL. "Its introduction would reduce litter, reduce the amount of broken glass in our streets and support a whole network of re-use and recycling. I congratulate Gecko on this initiative."

"New Zealanders consume around 1.9 billion drinks in bottles and cans a year, and with recycling rates in New Zealand reaching less than 40%, our ‘clean green' image doesn't stand up against other countries which achieve 80-90% recovery rates," says Warren Snow of sustainability consultants Envision New Zealand. "This type of event shows how simple and logical the CDL concept really is."

CDL is a market-based mechanism that would put a small refundable deposit on drink containers. The Government would set the parameters of the system and the drinks industry would design and implement it.

The CDL model aims to create a financial incentive for people to return drinks containers, captures containers used away from home that kerbside recycling or public recycling bins do not recover (over 50%), and transfers the costs of recycling from local government and ratepayers to drinks producers and consumers.

Potential benefits of CDL for New Zealand

We could reap the following potential benefits if we introduce CDL:

* More than double the amount of drinks containers diverted from landfill and recycled – as much as 85 to 98% depending on the level of deposit/refund incentive
* A wider range of drinks containers recycled (milk and juice cartons for example)
* Up to $400,000 per day injected into the economy – resulting in clean product returned for recycling
* More efficient kerbside recycling schemes - saving councils money
* Reduced litter in streets and in stormwater systems
* Reduction in the number of people, particularly children, cut by broken glass
* Reduction in costs associated with emptying street litter bins
* An estimated 2000 new full- and part-time jobs created in New Zealand
* Reduced landfill volumes and costs.


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