INDEPENDENT NEWS

Environment groups call for bottle refund schemes

Published: Fri 31 May 2019 12:35 PM
Environment groups and councils call for bottle refund schemes at Parliament
May 31, 2018
A petition calling for the introduction of a cash-for-trash bottle refund scheme, similar to the bottle refunds New Zealand used to have, was submitted on at the Environment Select Committee yesterday morning by anti-plastic campaigners.
Backed by local-government and environment groups, and joined on-the-day by local zero waste groups dressed in bottles and cans salvaged from Wellington's streets and beaches, campaigners Holly Dove and Hannah Blumhardt presented to MPs at the select committee, asking them to recommend the government introduce a mandatory refund scheme for beverage containers for New Zealand.
Campaigner and coordinator of The Kiwi Bottle Drive Holly Dove said the hearing went well.
“There’s been a huge swell of public support in the past few months, and we’re backed by council and many different organisations, so it was exciting to finally get a chance to speak to our petition and tell politicians on the select committee why New Zealand needs a bottle refund system now.”
Bottle refunds are a “no brainer” said Dove.
“It’s a really simple and effective waste minimisation tool which New Zealand could implement right now using existing legislation.
“While doubling our recycling rate and cleaning up our streets, a bottle refund scheme means great fundraising opportunities for community groups and schools - it’s a win for people and planet.”
Dove delivered the petition late last year, with a team of support, including Wellington’s Mayor Justin Lester.
Mayor Justin Lester said the Wellington council was in full-support of bottle deposits, which were a “back to the future” solution for waste minimisation.
"Bottle deposits are the next logical step for New Zealand to take in terms of waste minimisation and moving toward a zero waste economy," he said.
Greenpeace’s oceans campaigner Jessica Desmond said the organisation supports bottle deposits as part of a comprehensive strategy to tackle the plastics crisis.
“Plastic bottles and other beverage containers are a huge part of the waste problem in New Zealand, and far too many of these materials are ending up in landfills, leaking into the environment or being shipped overseas to be someone else's problem. With bottle deposits we can have closed-loop recycling and refillable options on-shore.”
"Globally plastics waste is choking our oceans, we urgently need a plan and better systems, like bottle refunds, to protect it,” Desmond said.
Hannah Blumhardt of the New Zealand Product Stewardship Council said setting up a nationwide bottle deposit scheme for New Zealand was not a complicated task.
“The Government already has the power to set up bottle deposits under the Waste Minimisation Act 2008 - you couldn’t really ask for a more popular, do-able and effective environmental policy,” Blumhardt said.
Chair of the Zero Waste Network Marty Hoffart, representing a large group of community recyclers across New Zealand, said there would be significant community benefits.
“We have a network of community recyclers and transfer stations across the country that can act as drop-off points, and supermarkets can invest in reverse vending machines if they wish.
“There is no good reason for further delay on bottle deposits in this country - we’re ready to go, we’re just waiting on the Associate Minister for the Environment to give this the green light.”
From here the select committee will consider the petition and Dove said this was the beginning of the public push for bottle deposits.
“We have the opportunity to learn from international best practice to design a uniquely Kiwi scheme. We have the opportunity to create jobs in a circular economy, while stopping needless waste and protecting the life of the oceans from plastic pollution” Dove said.
“Bottle deposits are a win for us and our environment, now we’re looking forward to some government action to introduce them.”
ends

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