Auckland Council pushes to introduce cash for recycling scheme

A new scheme is being proposed to encourage people to recycle more and cut waste - but it would bump up the cost of drinks.

For every bottle or can we recycle, another ends up in landfill or the ocean.

Auckland Council wants a national container deposit scheme introduced to reduce litter and improve recycling rates.

"Our recycling rate for plastics or containers is around 50 percent at the moment," says general manager of Waste Solutions Ian Stupple.

"With a scheme in place we could be up to 80 to 90 percent."

Ten cents would be added to the price of every drink.  Consumers get their deposit back when they return the can or bottle to a drop-off site for recycling.

Alternatively, community groups could collect drinks containers for fundraising.

Or if they go into household recycling, the curbside collection company gets the deposit.

Vancouver in Canada has been running a successful campaign like this for nearly 50 years.

Chris Underwood, Solid Waste Strategic services manager in Vancouver, says they see "very high capture rates" of more than 95 percent.

"[It's] pretty outstanding... so we rarely see these items littered in the streets or in the ditches."

Mr Stupple says it would save councils and ratepayers here millions in recycling collection costs.

"We've done a lot of research within Auckland and within the industry that would demonstrate that we will get the same benefits as other cities are getting - higher recycling rates, less litter on the street - and it actually creates a lot of jobs as well."

But it would require the Government to pass a new law.

The Associate Minister for the Environment says the Government's committed to reducing waste, but points out "there has been a long and contentious history around whether container deposit schemes should be put in place in New Zealand."

Eugenie Sage, Associate Minister for the Environment, has asked her ministry to gather more information and to assess the implications and options of such a scheme.

However she points out there has been a "long and contentious history around whether container deposit schemes should be put in place in New Zealand."

If New Zealand does recycle Canada's idea, it will require the whole country to do its part and make it work.