Govt plans waste recycling shake-up

A bottle deposit system will allow people to receive 20 cents per bottle they drop off at designated collection sites.

A shake-up to the country's waste system is hoped to cut down the near 13 million tonnes of waste New Zealand sends to landfill every year.

The Transforming Recycling plan includes a national recycling system, a programme to encourage people to recycle bottles and a universal kerbside food waste collection.

Environment Minister David Parker unveiled the proposal in Auckland and says New Zealand's current waste systems are inadequate.

"Every year New Zealand generates more than 17 million tonnes of waste ... It's estimated that nationally only 28 per cent of materials are recycled and the rest goes to landfill. By contrast, Germany, Austria and Wales have the highest recycling rates in the world, with over 50 per cent of all waste being recycled.".

Parker says the aim of the new system is to make complete waste services accessible to all New Zealanders and he used his own circumstances to illustrate the point.

"I would say my recycling at my house is Auckland is pretty good, but recycling I do at my flat in Wellington is poor. For me to ensure my recyclables are recycled, I've effectively got to take them into work.

"I think that's an example of how these things need to be standardised so I can do as well in my Wellington flat as I can do at my home in Auckland."

The new changes being announced today include a kerbside food scrap collection for all homes and businesses by 2030.

Parker says food scraps make up more than a third of a typical household's rubbish each week and create greenhouse gas emissions when sent to landfill.

Methane is released when the food breaks down in landfill and it will never be possible to catch all of this gas, he says.

"Providing access to household kerbside food scraps collections is a simple step to reduce emissions and return nutrients to the soil."

Bottles too have been targeted for a recycling programme.

"More than two billion drinks are sold every year in New Zealand. Less than half of these containers are recycled, meaning that over a billion containers end up as litter, are stockpiled, or sent to landfills every year."

A bottle deposit system will allow people to receive 20 cents per bottle they drop off at designated collection sites.

He says some of the machines would operate like an ATM, taking the bottles in exchange for cash.

Dairies and supermarkets may also be used as collection points.

"The container deposit scheme will reduce litter of beverage containers by more than 50 percent - that's the overseas experience. That's a big drop and some of that litter created is quite dangerous, with broken glass and things."

Queensland has recently implemented the same system and its Productivity Commission found it cost 93 cents per household per month to establish, he says.

With the proposed scheme in place, drinks container recycling rates could be more than doubled.

Parker declined to comment on the total cost of the overhaul, though said some of the initial infrastructure costs, such as buying and installing bottle depositories, will come from the existing Waste Levy Fund.

The National Party said the recycling plan has been a long time in coming, yet it still lacks detail.

Environment spokesperson Scott Simpson says Labour has done very little to address recycling in the five years it has been in power.

"In concept and in principle these are three good initiatives that we would want to support if we can. It surprises me that a government that talks a big game on environmental issues is still just talking about reducing the volume, the vast volume, of stuff we send to landfill every year."

Public feedback on the plan is encouraged and is open from today until 8 May on the Ministry for the Environment website.

-RNZ/Niva Chittock.




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2 Comments

Kiwibuild

Posted on 14-03-2022 14:17 | By Slim Shady

I’m sure their plan for what goes in the ground will be every bit as good as their plan for what comes out of the ground. And the planet can breath a sigh of relief.

Electronics batteries etc

Posted on 14-03-2022 07:57 | By Kancho

Seems the valuable materials in electrical and electronics, phones etc and chemicals from batteries are all too hard. There isn’t a satisfactory way to recycle appliances or so much . Seems car tyres batteries and perhaps electric cars still have a long way to go especially in NZ

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