Greenpeace and The Kiwi Bottle Drive have today heralded the Government’s announcement to introduce a bottle refund scheme as a "breakthrough moment for plastic waste in New Zealand."
Associate Minister for the Environment Eugenie Sage made the announcement at the WasteMINZ conference in Hamilton this morning, saying work is underway to design a scheme fit for purpose by August 2020.
Zero waste campaign group The Kiwi Bottle Drive has welcomed the move, with spokesperson Holly Dove saying this is a win for both communities and the environment.
"After decades of campaigning from groups like the Kiwi Bottle Drive and watching our plastic crisis continue to grow, it’s inspiring to see the Government stepping up to take serious action on waste," she says.
"This is a big win for us following our petition we delivered to Parliament in 2017, signed by more than 15,000 Kiwis, calling for a bottle refund scheme.
"There’s been a huge swell of public support in the past few months, and support from councils and many different organisations, so it’s exciting to hear work is underway to make bottle refunds a reality for New Zealand.
"Bottle refunds are the next logical step in moving toward a zero waste society, by closing the loop on single-use plastic bottles."
While commending the announcement, Greenpeace ocean campaigner Jessica Desmond says an independent managing body is crucial to getting it right.
"Overseas we see companies like Coca Cola run some bottle deposit schemes for profit," she says.
"Coca Cola Amatil produce hundreds of millions of plastic bottles per year in New Zealand alone and Coke’s discarded plastic waste ranks top of pollution washing up on the beaches of Aotearoa.
"Coke should not be trusted to run the proposed container deposit scheme, in the same way that you wouldn’t trust the fox to look after the hen house. It’s crucial the scheme here is not run by one of the very companies responsible for the plastic crisis."
A bottle deposit scheme in New Zealand would see all drink containers carry a refundable deposit, which is redeemed when the item is returned to a collection point.
"Bottle refund schemes are a circular economy dream in terms of waste minimisation, but only in the right hands," Desmond says.