A bottle deposit scheme at last!
We're SO close! At Mahurangi Wastebusters we've been supporting our mates at the Kiwi Bottle Drive for ages and now the government is asking us to have our say!
Remember the old days when you bought a bottle of drink you paid an extra few cents, and when you took the bottle back you got the deposit back? It eliminated litter because the bottles were worth something.
Please take a couple of minutes to make a submission - now's our chance! If enough people support it, we can do this! Deadline is 8 May, so do it now!
To make a quick and easy submission, add your voice to the Kiwi Bottle Drive submission here:
Or write your own and submit it to the Ministry for the Environment here: https://consult.environment.govt.nz/waste/quick-submission-transforming-recycling/
And if you want to take a deep dive into this subject, read on...........
What’s it all about?
Did you hear that very loud cheer across NZ on Sunday March 13th? It came from the thousands of people who have been campaigning, some for two decades, for a beverage container return scheme (CRS), also known as a bottle deposit scheme. It’s a way to reward people who return empty drink containers for recycling, with a small refundable deposit.
On that Sunday, the Government announced a three part Transforming Recycling Plan, of which Part One is the proposed Container Return Scheme. This concept will be nothing new to kids of the 70’s in many countries, who dedicated much time to collecting bottles in return for cash, which could be immediately spent on sweets at the dairy. In NZ, sadly, this scheme was scrapped in the 80’s.
Many places around the world have had successful CRS for many years - South Australia have had theirs since 1977 and they recycle 97% of their beverage containers each year, which equates to more than 600 million items. Germany adopted theirs in 2002. All stores that sell beverages are required to take them back and refund a deposit to the person who returns it - whether or not that person bought the drink. Most of the returns are managed via machines to simplify the process. It incentivises waste reduction and litter collection.
The government proposal - how will it work?
For these systems to work there has to be a high degree of cooperation between Government, producers, retailers and consumers and there’s a lot to consider. Up for consultation are:
Why do we need a CRM?
Currently, 1.7 billion bottles and cans are landfilled or littered in roadsides, parks and oceans in New Zealand each year. (ref: Kiwi Bottle Drive). Our current rate of recycling for drink containers is about 45%. Our system makes it hard to recycle drink containers when you are away from your home recycle bin and gives no responsibility to the producer of that container.
We desperately need systems that make it easier for everyone to do the right thing. We need to stop this linear flow of waste from producer to retailer to consumer to landfill or ocean and create a circular system. We need to hold producers accountable for what they create and send into the world and profit from, instead of letting others bear all the responsibility and cost of dealing with that product.
A CRM will improve resource recovery by stopping so much recyclable and re-useable material going to landfill, it reduces the energy (ie fossil fuels) needed to produce new containers and it will reduce the flow of litter heading into our natural environments that cause such devastation, especially to wildlife.
Pushback from Industry and exclusions
There are many groups who have been lobbying hard for a long time for a CRM, but there are also groups lobbying hard to shape the final CRM proposal, most notably many of the industries that produce these containers in the first place. But it’s essential we change the linear model of production to a circular model that insists on product stewardship. This will encourage companies to design packaging using materials that maintain their value, that are easier to recycle sustainably and cause less environmental harm.
Conclusion - make it easy
Data shows that in 2020/2021 New Zealanders bought an estimated 2.57 billion single-use beverages and sales volumes are only increasing. It would be AMAZING to finally have a CRS operating in our beautiful country. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed every day in the face of so much systemic waste, particularly when you are time poor. This will make some of it so much easier, which is how it should be. We have to make it easy and economical to do the right thing.
Consultation on this proposal lasts until May 8th so we have a few weeks to get as many people as possible having their say. We are all short of time so to make it faster, several of our NZ Zero waste heroes will be producing handy submission templates so all you have to do is copy and paste from The Kiwi Bottle Drive and The Rubbish Trip on social media.
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