The Kiwi Bottle Drive, New Zealand’s community campaign for bottle deposits, is delighted that today the Minister for the Environment, Hon David Parker, has announced a Government proposal to implement a beverage container return scheme for Aotearoa.

“This is a historic moment for our campaign, and for our founder Warren Snow, who has fought for more than two decades to arrive at today’s announcement” said Olga Darkadaki, Campaigner at the Kiwi Bottle Drive.

Deposit return schemes for drinks – where consumers pay a deposit when they buy a beverage that is redeemed when they return it to a retailer or recycling centre – are a popular and uncontentious policy.

“Over 80% of the public and 90% of local councils, as well as organisations like Coca Cola and the New Zealand Beverage Council, support the introduction of a nationwide beverage Container Return Scheme” said Darkadaki.

In December 2018, the Kiwi Bottle Drive’s petition calling for a nationwide, mandatory container return scheme garnered 15,276 signatures. The petition was subsequently supported by the parliamentary Environment Select Committee that recommended the Government progress with the scheme.

“These schemes are fair, reimbursing community recycling centres and other community groups for the work they do and removing an unfair burden off ratepayers and councils to clean-up after the beverage industry” says Kiwi Bottle Drive founder, Warren Snow.

A beverage container return scheme will help New Zealand move from a linear to a more circular economy. Currently, 1.7 billion bottles and cans are landfilled or littered in roadsides, parks and oceans in New Zealand each year.

International experience shows that a well-designed beverage container return scheme has the potential to change this completely; more than doubling New Zealand’s low recycling rates for empty drinks bottles, cans and cartons from a measly 45% to over 85%.

The schemes also create a platform for more refillable beverages, which helps the environment because washing, reusing and refilling bottles reduces waste, the use of raw materials and climate emissions.

“We applaud the Government for this announcement. We are pleased to see the proposed deposit set at an appropriate level (20c).”

“The Kiwi Bottle Drive has always advocated for a comprehensive scheme that includes all beverages and all container material types. Milk should not be exempt from the scheme.”

“It is also important that the beverage industry is not given the power to control the scheme. Overseas experience shows that the beverage industry has a vested interest in suppressing return rates, as this saves them money.”

For this reason, it’s great the Government is proposing that beverage producers should pay the deposits upfront for every container put on the market, not only reimburse the ones that are returned. We have consistently called for this approach in our Happy Returns reports.

“We will be reading the consultation document closely, to understand the proposals more fully, and in the coming weeks we will create a submission template to support the public to have their say on this important proposal” says Darkadaki.