John is a senior reporter at the Bay of Plenty Times

Cash for empty bottles poised for return

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The old childhood perk of cashing in deposits on drink bottles could be reintroduced into New Zealand if local government politicians get their way. PHOTO/FILE
The old childhood perk of cashing in deposits on drink bottles could be reintroduced into New Zealand if local government politicians get their way. PHOTO/FILE

The old childhood perk of cashing in deposits on drink bottles could be reintroduced into New Zealand if local government politicians get their way.

Tauranga City Council yesterday backed a Local Government Association remit for the return to the days when soft drink and beer bottles carried a deposit.

If passed at the national conference, it would result in the organisation that represents New Zealand's councils asking the Government to bring in a deposits on bottles scheme within two years.

The only dissenting vote yesterday was Councillor Gail McIntosh who explained after the meeting that returning to deposits on bottles would create more bureaucracy.

''There are more ways to skin a cat.''

She said people were recycling far more than they used to, and the scheme would be an administrative nightmare.

''It's time has gone.''

Councillor Catherine Stewart said it was a great opportunity to get serious and make some headway on a waste problem.

The promoter of the scheme, the Palmerston North City Council, said it would reduce the number of recyclable drink bottles going into landfill or not being recycled.

Councillors Kelvin Clout and John Robson both nostalgically recalled childhoods when they scavenged for glass bottles to earn a bit of cash for treats. Mr Clout recalled how a large bottle was worth 4c and a smaller bottle 2c.

"Many young people will be out on the streets picking up bottles," he said.

The remit, which had also been supported by the Local Government Association's metropolitan sector, said container deposit systems operated in a variety of ways internationally.

Depending on the system, containers were returned to the manufacturers via retailers, collection depots, reverse vending machines or recovered as part of existing waste or recycling systems.

Legislation required that manufacturers took responsibility for the returned containers, either to refill, recycle or disposal. The goal of the scheme was to reduce the environmental impacts of the product.

"Under the Waste Minimisation Act 2008, the Minister for the Environment can declare a product to be a priority product.

"The Minister has not yet declared any priority products, and thus far only voluntary product steward schemes exist in New Zealand," the remit said.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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