Greenpeace Aotearoa is welcoming the Government’s announcement of an overhaul of recycling systems to address New Zealand’s astronomical plastic waste issue.

On Sunday, the Government announced new proposals aimed to improve kerbside recycling, incentivise people to recycle empty drink containers, as well as separating businesses’ food scraps from general waste.

“We welcome a Container Return Scheme for Aotearoa but the devil will be in the detail. For it to be comprehensive we must include all bottles and all materials, with no exemptions. Companies like Coca-Cola are selling approximately 1 billion plastic drink bottles each year in New Zealand,” says Greenpeace Aotearoa plastics campaigner Juressa Lee. 

“We are excited at the prospect of a Container Return Scheme that, if done well, will mean we’ll have refill and reuse systems that will be a significant step toward turning off the plastic pollution tap,” says Lee. 

The proposal would also pay people 20 cents for every drink container returned for recycling. 

“Our petition to ban the bottle petition has over 100,000 signatures, so it’s clear that plastic pollution is a major concern for people in Aotearoa. No one wants plastic choking our oceans and killing marine life and nobody is happy that plastic is now in our food and in the air that we breathe. Plastic bottles are one of the major contributors to plastic pollution, so it’s time for a bottle ban, and it’s time for a container return scheme that keeps well-designed products in use for a long time,” says Lee.

It’s proposed that fresh dairy milk containers are excluded from the scheme, a move Greenpeace says will undermine its effectiveness.

“Single-use plastic milk bottles are as harmful to our planet and climate as other plastic beverage bottles. An exemption would be inconsistent with the objectives of a return scheme and our broader goals for waste,” says Lee.

“If we want to shift to a truly circular economy, if we want to minimise waste and if we want to lower our impact on the environment then we must ban the single use plastic bottle and prioritize refill and reuse alternatives over recycling.”

The container return scheme and the wider “Transforming Recycling” proposal is open for public consultation until 8 May, 2022.

PETITION: Ban Single-use Plastic Bottles

Call on the NZ Government to ban unnecessary single-use plastic bottles* in NZ, and to incentivise reusable and refillable alternatives.

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