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Container recycling ‘poor’ in New Zealand despite grants

New Zealand – ‘Millions of dollars worth of government grants to boost beverage container recycling have made little impact on New Zealand’s poor recycling rates with Kiwis wasting enough beverage containers to fill 700 Boeing 747 jumbo jets each year,’ according to a new report released by Envision.

New Zealand records a recycling rate for containers of between 25% and 40%, significantly lower than the 85-98% routinely achieved in Canada, South Australia and Western Europe. The InCENTive to Recycle report recommends the reintroduction of a mandatory container deposit scheme in order to boost rates in New Zealand.

Lead author Warren Snow says bringing back a bottle refund or container deposit scheme would cost the beverage industry only half a cent per container but would increase beverage container recycling every year by 45 000 tonnes. This move would also raise recycling rates to 85%, create up to 2400 new jobs and divert 180 000 cubic metres of waste from landfill to save New Zealanders between NZ$ 26 million and NZ$ 40 million per year in waste disposal costs, it has been calculated.

Since 2008, the New Zealand government has given out nearly NZ$ 7 million in taxpayer-funded grants for initiatives to recycle beverage containers. ‘But most of that money has ended up in the hands of groups representing corporate packaging and beverage industries with a vested interest to retain the status quo,’ Snow argues.

According to Envision, the wasted containers are currently heading to landfill and every year take up ‘as much space as an eight-story building’.

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