The Kiwi Bottle Drive is returning to the Kaitaia Saturday market next week, after a spectacularly successful debut last year, when market patrons recycled more than 20,000 cans and bottles.
"Similar events were held around the country, and Kaitaia folk were the country's top recyclers," Kiwi Bottle Drive organiser Warren Snow said.
"So we're bringing it back to Kaitaia as part of Plastic Free Kaitaia 2020. We'll be buying back bottles and cans again at the Kaitaia market on July 14."
The exercise was part of a campaign aimed at persuading the Government to adopt a bottle deposit scheme, to stop drink containers cluttering up the landscape and damaging the marine environment.
"If every bottle or can had a 10c refund on it there wouldn't be any bottles on our beaches, in the gutters or at the top of the Mangamukas because people or groups will pick them up to claim the refund," Mr Snow said.
"Recyclers, councils, community groups all over New Zealand are calling for bottle deposits to be brought back, but the beverage industry doesn't want them, even though it would cost them less than one cent per container. At present they only pay around 1 per cent of the costs of recycling in New Zealand. The rest is paid by local authorities, which have no option but to foot the bill."
He believed a deposit scheme would lift recycling rates from around 30-40 per cent to 85 per cent or more. Some countries had achieved as much as 98 per cent recovery of drink bottles and cans.
And the recycled material would not be contaminated, so would be easily sold.
"Last year's Bottle Drive showed what a little town like Kaitaia and the surrounding area can do," he added.
"All it takes is a small financial incentive to get people motivated to do the right thing. As mayor John Carter said last year, everyone benefits from a bottle deposit scheme. There are no losers."
Everyone was urged to take their (clean) plastic, aluminum and glass beverage containers to the market on July 14, to receive 10 cents apiece, with a maximum payout of $20 per person.
"We've got Eugenie Sage, a Green MP, in charge of waste now," Mr Snow said, "so we have high expectations that after nearly 25 years of failed corporate-run voluntary schemes, the government will see sense and do the right thing"
For more information on bottle deposits, and/or to sign the petition, go to www.kiwibottledrive.nz; more about Plastic Free Kaitaia 2020 can be found on the Far North Environment Centre's Facebook page, or drop in to the Eco-Centre, across the road from Te Ahu.