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It’s time for collaboration not confrontation

2nd October 2008


It’s time for collaboration not confrontation to improve recycling of drinks containers at best cost for all of us

The pros and cons of introducing a deposit tax on drinks containers was the subject for discussion at today’s annual conference of the NZ Juice and Beverage Association.

Speaking for the introduction of a container tax was Warren Snow, Executive Director of Envision and speaking against was Paul Curtis, Executive Director of the Packaging Council.

Mr Curtis said that it was time for collaboration rather than confrontation on this issue:

“So often progress in New Zealand is being held back because we prefer to focus on where we differ not where we agree. The debate around container deposits is a case in point. In the “green” corner we have community groups convinced business pays lip service to its environmental obligations and in the “red” corner is business convinced that advocates for container deposit legislation are living in the past. Two, often intransigent, sides passionately articulating firmly held, but opposing views. Both sides convinced that their version of the facts is the correct one.”

“And while this continues, neither side is able to put their messages across to the consuming public as effectively as they could do if they worked together. Community recycling groups have their grass roots networks, business has the scale and we both have the motivation.”

Mr Curtis said that New Zealanders are now recycling 60% of all packaging and recycling is now increasing faster than consumption.

“97% of New Zealanders have access to recycling so we have an excellent system in place already. Adding a parallel collection service for drinks containers would reduce the effectiveness of the existing household recovery service and would add between $48 million and $98 million to the cost of collection.”

“What is particularly interesting is that we’re not actually in dispute over the costs of container deposit legislation. We just disagree on where those costs fall.”

Mr Curtis said that too much time was being wasted on fighting issues rather than agreeing to differ and focusing on what both sides have in common.

“This is reinforced by the way waste minimisation has become a political debate in New Zealand. For those politicians who seem set to make container deposit legislation the number one issue for the Waste Minimisation Act I would implore them to consider where we can get the best bang for our fast diminishing buck.”

“Rather than raising everything to the level of a Mexican stand off, why don’t we agree to disagree on container deposit systems and find some common ground that we can agree on and work together.”

“We know that about 60% of packaged beverages are drunk at home, 30% are drunk in bars, clubs, restaurants, higher education institutions, etc and about 10% are drunk in the open. The Packaging Council is investigating how industry can improve the availability of public place recycling in New Zealand to capture that 10%. And aluminium cans are worth about $1700 per tonne. We can collaborate with schools and community recyclers to run can drives and at that value, why do you need a deposit? Both of these projects would be so much more successful if we could collaborate with the community recyclers.”


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