News, Events and Culture

Back to the future with bottle deposit scheme

Sunday July 24 2016

Palmerston North City Council’s call for a ‘cash for drinking containers’ recycling scheme has received the backing of other New Zealand local authorities.

PNCC’s bottle and container remit was passed at the Local Government New Zealand annual conference in Dunedin. The remit was seconded by Auckland Council.

Palmerston North Mayor Grant Smith says the introduction of a nationwide deposit scheme could see recycling double in New Zealand, bringing with it huge benefits for the environment.

It would also see the cost of recycling shift from local authorities and ratepayers to producers and consumers, he says.

“Many people will fondly remember the days of bottle drives, and it’s time they made a comeback. As a nation we consume more than 2 billion beverages every year, but currently less than 40% of the containers we drink from are being recycled.”

Unlike voluntary recycling schemes, container deposit schemes provide a strong financial incentive for consumers to return containers for recycling.

A 10 cent deposit would be paid on all beverage containers, and private and social entrepreneurs would set up drop-off points where the public could receive refunds.

“The scheme would be a business opportunity for entrepreneurs, provide a new source of funds for social service and community groups, and create as many as 2,000 new jobs throughout the country.”

It has been calculated that the scheme could save ratepayers nationwide between $26 and $40 million per year in rubbish collection.

Preparation work was undertaken in 2007, when Envision NZ developed a model for a container deposit scheme in New Zealand that would cost the beverage industry less than $10 million a year. Later this year Auckland Council is commissioning an independent economic review of the report.

Local Government New Zealand will now put a request to central government to require industry to develop and implement the scheme within two years.