Wastebusters aims to bring back container recycling refunds

Photo: Gina Dempster

Wanaka Wastebusters gave away cash for recycling to support the Kiwi Bottle Drive national day of action on Tuesday. During two hours that afternoon, every customer who recycled a drink bottle or can at the recycling centre received a refund of 10 cents as well as a chance to sign a petition to bring back recycling refunds for bottles and cans.

Tuesday’s bottle drive also provided Wastebusters with the opportunity to test out the community’s interest for a recycling refund scheme for bottles and cans. "It's the easiest petition I've every asked people to sign," said Wastebusters communications manager Gina Dempster. "No one seems to remember why we got rid of recycling refunds for bottles and cans in the 1980s, but everyone wants to bring them back. I've heard lots of great stories from people about what they used to do with the money they collected, from buying jet planes at the dairy to saving up with their brother for their first pony."

Dempster said a handling fee would be included in the scheme to help cover the recycling costs, which would make it easier for recycling depots to get through times when the market for recycling materials bottoms out.

She said the key to making a recycling refund scheme work is to have a variety of depots and container drop-off locations for bottles and cans including reverse-vending machines. “The impact of bringing in recycling refunds for beverage containers would be significant. Many people don't realise we only recycle about 40 percent of our beverage containers. States in Australia with recycling refunds recycle over 80 percent of their beverage containers. It's pretty hard to argue against those statistics, especially because many of the bottles not getting recycled are plastic and might end up in the oceans.”

Wastebusters is one of many organisations, including Kiwi Bottle Drive, Auckland council and the Zero Waste Network, that are working together to bring a container deposit-refund scheme back to New Zealand. The petition will be available to sign in the Wastebusters shop this week as well as on the Wastesbusters website.

Pictured: Eva Weir, visiting from Christchurch, dropping off some bottles for recycling.


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