The Prime Minister yesterday announced that a slew of climate and environment policies will be binned or deferred, redirecting focus to cyclone recovery and cost of living issues but Greenpeace is calling it a grave error.

“The Prime Minister has made a real error of judgement here,” says Greenpeace spokesperson Juressa Lee. “A container return scheme would have been a win-win for people and planet, and it’s something that New Zealanders want.”

Reloop commissioned consumer polling and found that New Zealanders are overwhelmingly in favour of the Government’s proposal to introduce a Container Return Scheme for the recycling of beverage containers.

“As well as environmental benefits, a container return scheme would provide a financial boost to community recyclers, councils and waste pickers who clean up our beaches and green spaces, often for little or no compensation,” says Lee.

“Deferring the Container Return Scheme will see households and the environment continuing to pay the costs of beverage container waste.

“No one wants to see plastic waste washing up on beaches, clogging up roadsides and gutters or being ingested by wildlife.

“We’re in a crisis where plastic pollution is in the air we breathe, the water we drink and has even shown up in our blood and in breast milk. It’s choking our oceans and communities whose livelihoods are dependent on healthy oceans are facing the triple threat of climate change, biodiversity loss and plastic pollution. The government’s inaction will bring further harm to our most vulnerable.

“Meanwhile, an estimated one billion plastic bottles are being made and sold in Aotearoa each year by plastic polluters like Coca-Cola, who rake in huge profits but take no responsibility for the pollution they’re causing.

“The Container Return Scheme would have had enormous benefits for our communities and our environment. It would mean higher recycling rates, more reuse and a decrease in litter,” says Lee.