Delaying the introduction of new water reforms was not an option according to the two cabinet Ministers directly involved – Environment Minister David Parker and Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor.
CDL has operated in parts of Europe, particularly Germany since the 1970s. Over the last 10 years, since the development of the Glass Packaging Forum (GPF) and its Government accredited Product Stewardship Scheme, brands using glass packaging, have been largely protected from restrictive and draconian environmental legislation such as CDL.
Glass has now reached a new high recovery rate of 73% through voluntary programmes, equal to the European Union average where several countries are heavily influenced by mandatory regulations. However, this is still short of world best recycling rates and to protect New Zealand’s 100% pure reputation it is essential that we are comparable with the best and have a recycling rate over 80%.
Progress to date has been achieved by a multifaceted approach to education, infrastructure, promotion and research. The GPF has promoted and funded recycling bins at events such as the Winery Tour and other festivals where wine is sold. Over 50% of our funding goes to Councils or their contractors to improve the quality and quantity of glass recycling through better collections and storage facilities. The GPF has funded education programmes in schools and research to develop alternative uses for glass which is not suitable for remanufacture into new glass containers and where justified, has assisted related commercial activities.
However, in the current political environment and with an election later this year, the “Cash for Containers” lobby encouraged by support from 90% of local councils at the Local Government New Zealand 2016 Conference, are ramping up calls for CDL knowing that a change in government might result in regulation.
Advocates for “Cash for Containers” say that CDL will reduce costs for councils, increase recycling and reduce litter. However, this is not supported by economic analysis. The Packaging Forum engaged one of New Zealand’s leading economists to assess the cost of introducing a Container Deposit System alongside our existing kerbside collections. The annual cost of introducing a 10 cents charge on beverage containers is $NZ 75 million which proponents naively expect the commercial sector to meet. (Copies of this research can found on the Glass Packaging Forum Website
The claimed benefits from CDL of an expected 7% increase to 80% in the recycling rate does not justify this cost, especially as opportunities exist to similarly improve the current rate with voluntary programmes without regulations.
An often quoted reason for CDL is that it will reduce litter is also incorrect with packaging representing only 11% of litter.
The glass packaged goods industry can only continue to operate free from legislation as long as it can demonstrate that its voluntary Product Stewardship Scheme is widely representative and providing results that are comparable with those countries with CDL programmes.
The GPF was one of the first organisations to achieve accreditation of its voluntary scheme and is now preparing its application for a second seven year accreditation period. The Ministry for the Environment has signalled a need for more companies to join the programme to clearly demonstrate an increased industry mandate.
There is a need to not only increase recycling but also increase membership. Membership costs are unique in that they are totally equitable being directly related to tonnages of glass sold into the New Zealad market place by each member company.