Bottle refund scheme 'would increase recycling'

Bottle refund scheme 'would increase recycling'

An environmental group is calling for the return of the old bottle refund system. A new report has revealed New Zealand's recycling rate is less than 40 percent and suggests a 10 cent refund might help.

New Zealand prides itself on a clean, green image, but environmental group Envision says when it comes to recycling we're falling short.

It wants to boost our recycling rates from 40 to 85 percent, and believes a cash-for-container scheme will do the trick.

"All of the places around the world that have it," says Envision spokesman Warren Snow. "It still works. Somehow people, even wealthy people, like to get that little bit of money back."

Under the scheme, beverage producers price their products 10 cents higher. That gets passed to the retailer, and then the consumer who gets refunded that amount for each container.

Envision says it would cost the beverage industry just $10 million a year. That would fund a managing agency, which would oversee at least 200 collection points across the country, potentially saving millions in kerbside collection costs.

"Other benefits include it would create at least 2000 jobs," says Mr Snow. "Now what government can turn 2000 jobs on like that?"

Auckland is among a number of councils supporting the proposal.

"We know that Aucklanders love to recycle, and this is a way to potentially encourage more recycling, but also it should see less litter on the streets," says Solid Waste Services manager Ian Stupple.

But the beverage industry says the scheme isn't viable.

"At the moment the system is set up so you pay for collection through your rates, so people wouldn't be used to paying an extra 10 cents per container," says a spokesman for the Packaging Forum.

Both Labour and the Greens support the scheme, but the Government says the cost will outweigh any environmental benefit.

Without government backing, the proposal looks likely to end up at the bottom of the heap.

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