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Glass mountain in Central OtagoThe responsibility and costs of dealing with the growing mountain of packaging waste (such as single use containers) is currently falling onto taxpayers, councils and communities.  The waste from packaging accounts for about one eighth of the rubbish sent to landfills.  Each New Zealander throws away 83 kilograms of used packaging every year*. (*Ministry for the Environment) 


In October 2006 The Packaging Council published a report it commissioned in respect of the Waste Minimisation (Solids) Bill. In this report, there is an emphasis on the increased expense resulting from the introduction of Container Deposit Legislation (CDL). The Waste Minimisation Bill, currently with a Select Committee, could be used to put such a measure in place.

We feel the report has some fair comment, but the analysis is biased and does not give a balanced view.

The most important point is that there are at least four other precepts which are far more important than CDL in the Bill.

New Zealand needs the Waste Minimisation Authority, the Landfill levy, the proceeds of the landfill levy (spent in the waste arena to develop the much needed infrastructure to deal with resources in the waste stream.), and we need Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) for many products, some of which are not packaging. For example: e-waste, end-of-life vehicles, fridges, fluorescent tubes, energy efficient bulbs etc all need to be dealt with under EPR.


A few points from Zero Waste:

  1. The report prefers the kerbside system to CDL. Kerbside is organised and paid for by Local Councils, so it is not the responsibility of producers and importers. If CDL was introduced the chances are some responsibility could be moved to the producers and importers.

Zero waste would like to see the producers and importers become more progressive in that new packaging appearing on supermarket shelves can be recycled within the existing system that is operating in New Zealand.  For example, the recent change for pet food from tin cans to foil packaging replaces recyclable packaging with non-recyclable. The manufacturer or importer makes that choice, but the disposal bill for the non-recyclable foil lies with the ratepayer.

In many places, CDL systems are aimed at the beverage containers that are consumed “on the road” and therefore tend not to get back to the household recycling bin. CDL also spreads the responsibility to the consumer who may be a tourist who does little to support the waste infrastructure.

  1. The costings are not balanced in our view. For instance factored in is an hourly rate for people returning their containers of up to $33 million, and a huge cost for returns space in-store. Certainly there will be a space requirement, but stacking, baling, and outdoors storage need to be factored in. The income from sale of recyclables doesn’t seem to be in the equation either, and this could easily be $40 million.


  2. An estimated 5% reduction in litter seems a little underdone. Manukau City Council spends more than $2 million a year on litter. South Australia has found that with CDL in place only 1 % of their litter is CDL beverage containers.

  3. ZW would like to see the environmental as well as economic factors considered. A recent Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) report from Britain has quantified the global warming mitigation from recycling.

  4. The EPR (Extended Reducer Responsibility) part of the report is, with respect, a little thin. There is an excellent system in Japan, for instance, which could be reviewed with respect to developing a similar system for New Zealand. EPR is needed for many items and we should not lose sight of this in this debate.


It is important that the Packaging Industry has had the opportunity to invest in a report and have its say. But we believe the most important precepts in the Waste Bill are the controlling authority, the levy, the building of a waste infrastructure, and EPR. Consideration of developing, or not, an equitable system of CDL comes after that for us. A unique system for our situation is needed, and this requires debate not dismissal.


We’d be interested in your views…..click ’contact Zero Waste Trust’ from the top right pane.


The full Report can be found at: http://www.packaging.org.nz/assets/Uploads/Revised-Covec-CDL-Report-Final.pdf


This page was created December 2006. 

See also Your Role in Reducing Packaging Waste, Container Deposit Legislation, Packaging Accord 2004

  Your Role in Reducing Packaging Waste
  Container Deposit Legislation
  Packaging Accord 2004
  Foam Recycling in NZ
  Glass Recycling in NZ
  Farm Plastics
  Plastic Bags
  Used batteries
  Light bulbs and fluorescent tubes
  E-waste Recycling
  TV Take Back Programme
  Bisphenol A in New Zealand
  Breast Cancer and Environmental Risks
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