The Kiwi Bottle Drive is pleased to announce a new version of our 2018 report Happy Returns. This updated version, written by Entrust Manager, Warren Snow, includes key changes that should be adopted by the Government for the final design of New Zealand’s upcoming Container Return Scheme (CRS – also commonly referred to as a Bottle Deposit Scheme). These include: 

1. The deposit should be 20 cents 

If we are going to achieve maximum recovery (85% plus) of all beverage containers, the deposit/refund should be 20 cents. As an experiment, imagine you are a 10-year-old child, holding a 10-cent coin in one hand and a 20-cent coin in the other. It is immediately obvious that the value and silver colour of the 20-cent coin is more enticing and a greater incentive than the 10-cent coin.  

2. The beverage industry should have limited if any role in managing the CRS 

Having spent over 20 years undermining the political will for effective policies to reduce beverage waste and litter, the beverage industry should not be rewarded with any control of the scheme. Although some big players in the beverage industry, such as Coca Cola, now claim to be in support of a CRS for New Zealand, they are proposing a CRS model which would enable them to manipulate the return rate to ensure the scheme costs them nothing – or even turn a profit. The beverage industry should have no say in the management of the CRS. However, if the Ministry for the Environment is unable to resist industry involvement, we suggest only one beverage industry representative on the CRS Managing Agency Board. 

3. We should make the redemption system where people return their bottles a ‘hybrid’ system of community run depots and automated Reverse Vending Machines in grocery stores 

Over the last 30 years, community groups have set up locally operated recycling centres. They have proven track records of reducing waste and creating jobs, especially in rural communities. Auckland Council has supported the establishment of about 12 Community Recycling Centres (CRCs) throughout the city, with approval for a total of 21. These facilities can easily be adapted to become depots for people to drop off their bottles and cans. Taking on the role of drop-off depots will provide CRCs with additional revenue, enable them to create more quality jobs and reduce their reliance on Council funding.  

4. We must include all container types in our CRS scheme 

Lobbyists from the glass sector are attempting to have glass removed from the scheme. This is simply an attempt to ensure they don’t pay a fair share of the costs of the scheme. Currently the glass sector only contributes an underwhelming 1% of the total costs of recycling glass. The councils pay for the rest, which goes onto our rates, thus socialising the costs of glass recovery to all ratepayers. Additionally, we currently only recycle 48% of glass. Under a well-designed CRS, recovery rates should be well over 80% and with the right deposit amount (20 cents) should achieve 85% plus. 

5. We want a ‘Deposit’ model for NZ’s CRS, not the beverage industry preferred ‘Refund’ model. 

The difference between the two models, is the difference between a high return scheme with maximum benefits to communities and a low return model with maximum benefits to industry. Refer to Happy Returns V2 document for details on the difference between the two options. 

6. New Zealand needs to move away from single use and move rapidly towards refillable beverage containers 

In the past we were able to refill and get a refund for all beverage containers. This created an incentive to ensure we returned them for refilling. The beverage industry did away with bottle deposits when they introduced single use containers in the 80’s. To counter the public outcry, industry put money into organisations like Keep New Zealand Beautiful – an organisation that opposes CRS, to keep in good with funders. It’s time we returned to refilling our drink containers. The beverage industry has a huge carbon footprint and refilling containers would reduce it by a large quantum. Let’s not be fooled by their ‘tyranny of distance’ mantra. They can quickly redesign their processes and logistics to fill containers locally throughout the country – like they used to do.  

Read our updated report for more. 

These suggestions are necessary to ensure Aotearoa’s CRS is fair, inclusive, economic, accessible and returns maximum benefits to the community. We have sent our new report to Minister for the Environment, David Parker. Here’s hoping he agrees it just makes cents!