Container return scheme will benefit recycling and the oceans

The work Green Ministers did last term is continuing to make a difference, with the announcement today that the Government is planning to introduce a beverage container return scheme.

As a Green Associate Environment Minister, Eugenie Sage kickstarted work to design and develop the scheme as a way of recovering millions of beverage containers each year so they can be recycled. 

“A well designed beverage container return scheme will benefit our oceans as well as consumers, councils, community organisations and the recycling sector. Banning single use plastic bags last term reduced plastic pollution in our oceans. Putting a value on drink containers will help do the same by increasing recycling and reducing litter. Litter audits show that drink containers make up nearly a quarter of litter in New Zealand,” says Eugenie Sage, the Green Party’s environment spokesperson.

“It’s very appropriate that the proposed container return scheme and the changes it will bring are being released for public comment in Seaweek. Currently too many plastic and glass bottles, cartons and aluminum cans end up in landfills, or as litter on streets, in parks, streams, on beaches and in the ocean. In 2020/21 alone, just 45 percent of the more than 2.5 billion glass, plastic, aluminium, paperboard and other single use drink containers consumed was recycled.

“The Greens also welcome the proposal to standardise kerbside recycling around the motu, and the requirement for councils to provide food scraps collection services. This will make it easier for people to recycle and should help boost our low recycling rates. Avoiding food scraps going to landfill will also reduce climate pollution from waste, helping the Government to meet the climate change targets the Greens put in place.

“The Green Party’s vision is of an Aotearoa that works with and within the cycles of Papatūānuku, so that resources are never used up but used again and again, where waste from one process is food for the next. For decades, industries have been extracting the earth's materials and making them into stuff that people use for a short period of time before throwing it away. 

"The Green Party has always been clear that to build a healthy, thriving and low carbon economy we need to reduce what we take from nature, and recover and re-use those materials. As a minister in the last Government I worked with Labour ministers to change the way we deal with waste in Aotearoa. I am pleased to see this work continuing to progress under the Labour-Greens’ cooperation agreement.

“While we’re delighted with the exciting new initiatives announced today, had a Green Minister still been at the decision making table, we would have pushed for more, including more regulated product stewardship schemes and greater investment in food rescue. This would have the double benefit of helping families and households and avoiding food waste to landfill.

“We urge people to have their say on the Government’s proposals. Together we can create a healthy, thriving and low carbon economy that avoids and reduces waste, and creates sustainable jobs” says Eugenie Sage.

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