Asia Minute: New Zealand Considers Change in Recycling Beverages

Sep 30, 2019

Recycling remains a challenge for both policymakers and consumers — not only here in Hawaii, but all around the world. In New Zealand, the government is trying a different approach when it comes to plastic bottles.

New Zealand is a country that has adopted a number of socially progressive policies, but it also lags behind other parts of the world in some surprising areas.

One example is the recycling of beverage containers, which is standard practice in many parts of the world — including in Hawaii — where the deposit is a nickel.

New Zealand wants to start a container deposit program, but potentially with a significantly higher level for the refundable deposit — maybe as high as twenty cents per container. The deposit might go even higher if that’s what’s needed to change consumer behavior, according to the Associate Minister for the Environment Eugenie Sage.

She says that fewer than half of single-use beverage containers in New Zealand are recycled, and the goal is to boost that level to 80-percent or more.

The New Zealand Herald reports as many as two-billion beverage containers are sold each year in the country — including plastic bottles.

Last week, the government announced it would develop a specific proposal for the policy — with details coming next summer. Some critics have called the move underwhelming — saying the government should move faster to establish the program much sooner.