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April 20, 2010

Otago Daily Times

Bottle Bill a no-brainer

My partner and I live beside a beach which we walk on as many days as we can. We regularly return laden with bottles cans and plastic containers dropped on the beach or washed ashore.

Driving to work we see cans bottles and plastic on the road verges, footpaths and in the gutters.

On TV we see news items such as the beach cleanup on Waiheke Island where tonnes of containers are regularly washed up.

Our community newspapers carry items on dangerous litter on our beaches and reserves, and routinely there is a call for people to be more thoughtful and conscientious about responsibly disposing of bottles and cans.

Yet nothing changes - the problem simply gets worse as more and more containerised products become available.

Why are we putting up with this when there is a proven way of dramatically reducing the problem?

Bottle bills have been passed into law in many states of the US and a growing number of other countries. Close to home South Australia has had Container Deposit Legislation since 1975, with a 10c deposit on each container return rates are reported as 85% of non-refillable glass bottles, 84% of cans, and 74% of PET plastic bottles. 92% of South Australians support this legislation.

With a deposit of $5 on a wine bottle, how many did you see irresponsibly disposed of at the Womad Festival?

Bottle Bills worldwide have been opposed by manufacturers and retailers who prefer taxpayers to subsidise products by picking up the cost of disposal of containers. A deposit system puts the cost onto the consumer . . . who can then recover it through responsible disposal (or someone else will . . . anyone remember the Scouts bottle drives?.

Along the way an industry with jobs is created, widened avenues for recycling are set up, producers and consumers are rewarded for responsible behaviour.

Wherever there is container deposit legislation, the amount of litter from containers on roadsides beaches and parks is massively decreased. Could we achieve this in NZ?

Do we have the political will that it will take? Or will we just keep on complaining about the irresponsible element who litter while we allow more and more no-deposit throwaway containers into our stores… and onto our beaches roads and parks.

Check out www.botttlebill.org . . .  write to your MP. Do something or sit back and watch the problem get worse. It’s a no-brainer.

Clive Saleman,
Oakura Beach,


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