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Dumping Returns Scheme Makes No Sense

Updated: Mar 15, 2023


A used plastic bottle on a beach
55% of beverage containers end up as pollution in landfills or as litter on roadsides, rivers and in the ocean.

“The decision to abandon a beverage container return scheme is based on a false economy that allows big polluters to continue to dump their products into the environment at the cost of ratepayers and local councils,” said Zero Waste Network spokesperson Sue Coutts.


“Right now we're paying more than we would be under a container return scheme, for a much worse outcome, where 55% of beverage containers end up as pollution in landfills or as litter on roadsides, rivers and in the ocean.”


“A container return scheme would more fairly allocate these costs to those responsible for creating them.”


“The reason given for deferring the container return scheme is so families don’t face additional costs. The reality is we are all already paying to recycle single use drink containers and to clean them up when they become litter and pollution. The cost just shows up on our rates bills and in our rent costs rather than on our supermarket dockets.”


“In areas with high visitor numbers, residents pick up the tab for ineffective public space recycling systems. Kerbside collections recover less than half of the single use beverage containers consumed in New Zealand each year.”


“Councils are left with the burden of going back to their ratepayers with rates hikes to cover the cost of these suboptimal ‘solutions’.”


“There is no magical world where we don’t have to pay to deal with the environmental impacts of single use containers.”


“A container return scheme puts this cost where it belongs with producers and the consumers of beverages. It covers the cost of recycling so councils don’t have to add it to their rates budgets and it creates a sustainable and effective system for collecting clean raw material for recyclers to use to make new products.”


“Of course the big producers fight against container return scheme proposals. They make good money selling drinks in single use containers and it suits them to have someone else pick up the tab to clean up the mess from their empty packaging afterwards.”


“A lot of smaller drinks producers understand the value to their brand of having an effective harvesting system for their packaging in place so it can be reused or recycled. They support the introduction of container return schemes that enable them to tap into a nationwide recovery system.”


“Around 80% of New Zealanders consistently support the introduction of container return schemes, 78% support in a recent Kantar survey commissioned by Reloop.”


“New Zealanders can see that a refundable deposit that creates an 85 to 95% return rate and a few cents on each container paid by beverage producers to cover the cost of recycling is a no-brainer policy that delivers real results at a realistic price.”


“Container return schemes are proven, practical tools that address wasteful consumption, plastic pollution and climate change. They should be at the top of the climate and environmental policy list for every party's election manifesto.”


2022 Reloop survey


March 2023 Fair Go

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