Weekend Sun   

Days of empties back?

Reduce Packaging Waste. Marty Hoffart wants a collection deposit scheme to reduce packaging waste. Photo: Bruce Barnard.

Older readers will recall taking back Dad’s empty bottles to the corner store, and cashing the profits in on bags of lollies or comic books. Today’s kids might soon have the same opportunities

The recent InCENTive to Recycle report released by Envision New Zealand says Kiwis dump enough beverage containers to fill 700 Boeing 747 jumbo jets each year.

Local champion of recycling, Community Recycling Network’s Chair Marty Hoffart, isn’t surprised. The 20-year veteran of recycle education has helped establish free recycling bins in 150 schools and early childhood centres across the Western Bay of Plenty.

He says New Zealand has one of the lowest rates of beverage packaging recycling in the OECD. “The reason is they don’t have a value here, so people are happy to stuff them in the rubbish bins at the Mount when they’re on holiday.

“You can only get so many people to take them home and put them in the recycling bin.”

New Zealand’s recycling rates for beverage packaging fluctuate between 25 and 40 per cent. “In other countries where they have container deposit systems, giving them a value of, say, 10 cents, immediately you can shoot up to a 85-98 per cent return rate.”

The InCENTive to Recycle report is calling for the reintroduction of a mandatory Container Deposit Scheme (CDS) – where empty bottles can be returned to recycling centres or shops for a small refund.

Marty says it won’t be Government or public ratepayer money funding the scheme. “It’s built into the system.

“When I buy a dozen beers, instead of $20 they would charge me another 10 cents per bottle, or another $1.20, so my beers would be $21.20. After I drink them and bring them back, I get a full refund for that deposit. It’s not costing me anymore.”

The report’s lead author Warren Snow says: “You won’t see bottles lying in the gutter, tossed over banks or drifting out to the sea when they are worth 10 cents”.

“There’s nothing like a financial incentive to get people to recycle.”

The CDS would only cost the beverage industry half a cent (0.5 cents) per container but would increase beverage container recycling every year by 45,000 tonnes.

The report concluded NZ should no longer continue with voluntary measures after 20 years of poor outcomes and it’s time to introduce a mandatory container deposit system.

Many Australian states either have a CDS in place, or have one planned. Do we really want the Aussies to beat us in recycling?

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