Container deposit scheme

Wastebusters has been talking about and advocating for container deposit schemes for years. We even ran our own return scheme for a day to promote the concept. So we’re totally stoked that work is underway to bring national return schemes back.

What is a container deposit scheme?

Also known as container return scheme, it works by including a disposal fee on a bottle or container at the point of sale. This deposit, which is usually a small amount, say 10c or 20c, can be redeemed when the bottle is returned to a designated drop-off spot.

Why does Wastebusters support it?

Container deposit schemes lead to extremely high recycling rates (up to 99% in Germany) and extremely low contamination and litter rates. In Norway, 97% of all plastic bottles are recycled, 92% to such a high standard they are turned back into drink bottles.
Without a scheme in place, about half of New Zealand’s recyclable materials ends up in landfill or in the litter stream; that’s 45,865 tonnes wasted, or the equivalent of 700 Boeing 747s.
With a scheme in place, the Zero Waste Network says at least 85% of containers would be recovered from the litter and waste streams and recycled, with the potential to create hundreds of new businesses, thousands of new jobs and large cost savings for ratepayers and local authorities.
How will it work?

Successful schemes have a network of depots where bottles can be returned, this can include existing community recycling facilities, like Wastebusters, and reverse vending machines.

The design of a New Zealand container deposit scheme was co-ordinated Auckland Council and Marlborough District Council, and involved a wide range of key stakeholders including representatives from the beverage, packaging and recycling industry, plus councils, mana whenua and iwi, retailers, consumers, product stewardship groups, and charitable organisations.

The final design was issued to the Ministry for the Environment (MfE) in October 2020. The next step is for MfE to present the design to Cabinet for consideration. Once a decision is made to proceed with development of regulations and implementation of a CDS it can be authorised under existing legislation (part 2 of the Waste Minimisation Act 2008) but it would take a few more years before a scheme could be implemented.