A beverage container return scheme (abbreviated ‘CRS’) means beverage containers – like bottles, cans and tetrapaks – carry a small, refundable deposit that people pay when they buy a drink and then get back when they return the empty drink container to be recycled or reused. It is sometimes called a “bottle deposit”. A CRS is also a product stewardship scheme because beverage producers pay a small fee on every container they put on the market, which covers the costs of collecting, transporting and processing returned containers.
Right now, about half of the 2.36 billion drinks bottles and cans New Zealanders use each year end up in landfill or the natural environment, and the costs of managing all beverage containers is paid for by Councils and the wider community. A CRS creates an incentive for drinks containers to be returned once they’re empty, which reduces litter and landfill and opens the door for refillable/reusable beverage packaging. It also creates a fairer system because producers and those who consume drinks become responsible for ensuring the packaging isn't wasted, rather than society at large.
Read more about CRS and why it's a great idea on The Kiwi Bottle Drive website, which has a range of great resources and handy 2 page factsheets.
At the beginning of 2022, the Government proposed a CRS for NZ in the Transforming Recycling consultation. Submissions for this have now closed and the Ministry for the Environment is analysing the submissions. You can read more about where the Government is at on the Ministry for the Environment website here.
Check out the collective submission on the CRS consultation that we supported on The Kiwi Bottle Drive website.
No, there are some pretty vocal vested interest groups who are not pleased about CRS or the government's proposal - particularly some segments of the packaging and beverage industries especially those that make, use and recycle glass. However, it's important to note that there are many beverage producers who do support a CRS.
The grumpy industry rumblings have been going on for a while, and are often associated with fear-mongering and, frankly, misinformation. In 2021, we joined up with The Kiwi Bottle Drive and a lot of other zero waste and recycling groups to continue to explain why NZ needs a CRS, and why the CRS needs to be comprehensive, without exemptions for particular beverages or packaging material types. For example, in 2021, we co-signed a collective open letter to Minister David Parker, calling for a Container Return Scheme that: