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What are Bottle Bills

Mike Ward MP
Tag: Waste

Bottle Bills — Some simple facts

Bottle Bills, otherwise known as Container Deposit Legislation, are a form of Extended Producer Responsibility making producers and consumers responsible for end-of-life products — ie; the polluter pays

Facts from the USA that could also be applied to New Zealand. (Container Recycling Institute)
"Beverage container sales are growing, particularly for new beverages such as bottled water and other non-carbonated drinks. As sales have increased, so has waste. In 2002, an estimated 118 billion aluminum, glass and plastic beverage containers were wasted- (not recycled): an 83% increase in wasting since 1992, and a 109% increase since 1982. There are costs associated with managing discarded one-way beverage containers, whether through recycling, disposal or litter clean up. The question for policymakers is "Who should pay these costs?" Refundable deposits shift the costs of managing discarded containers from government and taxpayers to producers and consumers of the beverage products. Deposit systems are needed now more than ever to minimize the environmental damage that results from making new containers from raw materials to replace those that are land filled, littered, or incinerated.

Benefits of bottle bills include:

  • Reduced landfilling costs to Councils

  • Creates jobs — more than 600 people are employed directly because of this legislation in Adelaide, South Australia (pop. 1.5 million people)
  • Reduced litter
  • Benefits the economy (reduced litter costs, reduced landfilling costs, increased employment opportunities therefore more money flowing through local economies, increased income from the sale of recovered materials, overseas funds saved because decrease of imported raw materials.)
  • Effective community education tools because encourage and empower individuals to do the right thing and encourages consumers to differentiate between products and packaging designed for reuse, recycling and disposal.
  • Works well alongside kerbside recycling programmes because ensures more materials are collected overall which means better business for recyclers.

While less materials may be collected from the kerbside, recycling operators are well placed to develop their services to include deposit and refund infrastructure. These programmes also maintain the quality of other recovered materials in commingled collections (where multi materials are collected in one round) eg. there is less contamination of paper if glass bottles are removed from this wastestream.

Other facts:
CDL ensures a high percentage return rate for containers in good condition for reuse and recycling.

It forces beverage container manufacturers to come up with solutions and markets to "close the material loop" using raw materials more wisely, which leads to a reduction in resource consumption

Australian studies have shown that the (voluntary) Australian National Packaging Covenant system "is not an effective instrument for reducing the generation of packaging waste and therefore an alternative policy framework is needed to achieve this goal".
(South Australia implemented a bottle bill in 1975. Now there are 140 collection points around South Australia spaced every 5km in the Adelaide metropolitan area. There are two return mechanisms: either return and earn a refund from a collection depot or return and earn from point of sale. This has been applied to ALL drinks containers (including tetrapak))

The Container Recycling Institute, USA has proven that packaging waste and beverage container waste is increasing.
Voluntary efforts to reduce it have failed. Ten states in the USA where bottle bills are in place the average container recovery rate is 70-95%. This compares to 37% in states where bottle bills have not been implemented.

For more information go to:

Or contact Lu White, Green Party Waste-Free campaigner, on 04 801 5297, email wastefree [at] greens [dot] org [dot] nz.

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