Getting 20c to return a used can or bottle of drink might not seem like much, but apply that to all the drinks you drink at home except milk and it could be a useful amount, says waste campaigner .
The proposed container return scheme is part of the government’s plan to improve the country’s “misfit” recycling, which also targets home recycling and food waste from businesses.
Under this program, a deposit of 20 cents is included in the price when you purchase a drink and returned when you bring it to a depot or collection point. The NZ Alcohol Beverages Council said the scheme would likely increase the cost of each drink by 30c to 35c.
Zero Waste Network president Marty Hoffart said the cost would go up, but not that much, and it was a higher deposit than many programs around the world, including Australia.
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“There are about 50 of these programs in different countries, states, provinces, and usually they cost around 1c or 2c per container. It is a small cost for us to be able to recover these materials.
Hoffart, who had campaigned for the change for 20 years, was “totally happy” with the proposal, although he would have preferred milk containers to be included as well.
“It works all over the world – 10c is enough, 20c is enough, I’m surprised, that’s a good rate of return, and it will last a decade or more into the future,” Hoffart said.
Beverage containers were generally the second most polluted object after cigarette butts, he said. The deposit was an incentive for people to pick up empty containers and not drop them in the first place, but most returns would come from drinks consumed at home.
“You don’t go somewhere for 10c or 20c, you go somewhere with $20 or $30. We all drink at home, we go to the supermarket and buy drinks, maybe we have a beer after work or a wine.
The programs have been proven to increase recycling rates around the world, and in New Zealand this would mean an additional economic activity of $45-55 million a year and several thousand jobs, he said. .
Of the more than two billion beverages sold each year in New Zealand, less than half of the containers have been recycled, which means that more than one billion containers have ended up as waste, stored or sent to landfills, said Environment Minister David Parker earlier this month.
A container return program was expected to increase the recycling rate of beverage containers by 85-90%.
“It’s a big step and we should have done it 40 years ago,” Hoffart said.
“We’re so behind, we have a huge catching up to do, but hopefully this is just the beginning and people could see that we could have a little early recycling tax on e-waste, we could have a small tire tax.
“The problem with all these items is that they are all recyclable, it’s just that there was never enough money if you didn’t pay a small amount up front to cover the costs. transportation and a few other things, but once you do that, those products have been recycled around the world for decades.
A report of the Sapere group in 2017 on the plan proposed by Auckland Council with a 10c deposit, the estimated benefits would exceed the costs by between $184m and $645m.
NZ Alcohol Beverages Council executive director Bridget MacDonald said the proposed container return system (CRS) would result in additional costs for consumers at a time when the cost of living was rising.
Expected costs of around 30c to 35c per container included 20c deposit, 8.8c non-refundable program management fee, potentially around 2c to 3c special product fee for certain materials and GST.
“Other costs will also need to be considered, such as new product labels to scan containers at the collection point – a recent survey of label costs by Food Standards Australia New Zealand found it to be £2 .4c to 6.8c per unit depending on container type Administrative costs for each beverage producer will need to be considered as the program will require dedicated resources which also has a cost.
She pointed to the PwC CRS financial modeling report commissioned by the Department of the Environment, which found that the proposed scheme would cost the average household $325 to $351 per year, which would drop to $78 to $103 per year if they returned all of their beverage containers for a refund.
“We urge the government to continue to seek improvements in our recycling system, however, we believe this means establishing a solid foundation by standardizing curbside recycling with separate bins.
“The positive impacts of, for much lower costs than a CRS, will be apparent. Once we see how this improvement changes the recycling landscape, then it would be time to consider whether a CRS is the best option for New Zealanders.
The government proposed that the containers be returned to a mix of retailers, such as supermarkets, and specific depots.
The government was looking public submissions until May 8.