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New Zealand's national recycling rate remains among the lowest in the developed world, but a solution could be just around the corner.
Auckland Council resource recovery manager George Fietje told The AM Show container deposit schemes could be making a comeback.
"There was a time you could go and get your bottles and bring them back to the dairy and get 8c for a large bottle and 4c for a small one and it worked well.
"This is really an incentive for consumers to recycle more. It places a value on beverage containers, and then you can redeem them at the shop again afterwards for 10c."
Auckland Council's modelling suggests it could increase rates of recycling to around 82 percent. In Vancouver, they're at 95 percent.
"What's happening is that there is so much material that is ending up outside our normal recycling collection systems. Look in the environment, our rural roads, and plastic bottles making their way into streams, out in to the ocean, and that's increasing. We have to change that."
Environment Minister Eugenie Sage has asked officials to look into a nationwide scheme.
"She's got a great team in Wellington working very hard on this. From there a working group is formed that will be tasked with designing the best scheme," Mr Fietje told The AM Show.
He said it could be fully operational in five years.
"If we can do it sooner, that would be great, but it needs to be an informed decision, we need to get it right. This is something for our future generations - our children will thank us."