Media Release

Kiwis urged to rally behind cheaper, more effective scheme to bolster glass recycling

18 May 2021 – Kiwis are being urged to rally behind an alternative proposal to enhance glass recycling in support of New Zealand’s ambition to create a zero-waste society.

The scheme is a simpler, cheaper, and more effective alternative for glass to the Container Return Scheme (CRS) currently under consideration by the Ministry for the Environment for all containers.

The call to action to transition to a regulated scheme comes from the Glass Packaging Forum (GPF), which operates the country’s only voluntary product stewardship scheme for glass and whose members already fund improvements to glass recovery and recycling throughout New Zealand. Our ambition is to divert 100% of container glass from landfill.

This GPF proposal will bring all container glass importers, producers and retailers onboard to fund the scheme, significantly enhancing New Zealand’s existing glass recycling infrastructure and collection networks to include all container glass – from beer and wine bottles to jam and pasta sauce jars.

Rob Langford, Chief Executive of the Packaging Forum, which operates the voluntary scheme says: “The CRS does have some attractive, feel-good qualities, and may be a solution for some non-glass beverage containers. We’re supportive of Government and the conversations that are happening around recycling but do strongly believe there is a better alternative for glass.

Based on scheme costs such in Queensland, if we achieved similar recover rates to Norway for glass (93%) the whole cost of the scheme could be up to 21c per container, which consumers pay up front as part of their beverage purchase, receiving a refund of 10 cents for every beverage container returned to a collection depot. Some cost is offset by the scheme’s sale of glass.” *

The GPF’s alternative model can operate more cost effectively for glass by making use of the country’s already extensive kerbside recycling network. Community groups and councils stand to benefit too, as they can become collectors and sell glass to the scheme. The price paid for glass by the proposed scheme is the key to incentivising collection from areas that are currently underserviced, such as those with a lower population density and the hospitality industry.

“New Zealand’s kerbside recycling network has had around three decades of investment put into it, and we are currently recovering 75% of all container glass going into the market – an enviable recycling statistic for any material in any country. Communities up and down the country have played a big role in helping to make this happen.

“But we can and should be doing better. Countries like Norway who are recovering around 93% of all glass containers show what’s possible through enhancing kerbside recycling,” says Mr Langford.

The benefits of a regulated product stewardship scheme that includes all glass containers are:

  • Alongside councils and other existing collectors, community groups and organisations can collect and sell glass to the scheme for a financial benefit – the local rugby club, the marae in a rural community, your kids’ school
  • There will be funding available to assist community groups with support that will help them to become a collector
  • Kiwis’ existing recycling infrastructure and collection networks up and down the country will be enhanced, encouraging everyone to work towards a circular economy.

The GPF has already met with Hon David Parker, Minister for the Environment, about exploring this transition from a voluntary scheme to a regulated one that includes all glass containers.

“We know that Kiwis want to do better when it comes to recycling. We care deeply about our environment and take our responsibility to protect what we have seriously. A well-designed scheme would be a win for everyone – Kiwis, the environment, councils, and recycling industries.

“If we get the model right from the get-go, we are confident New Zealand will end up with a robust solution that supports out waste minimisation ambition to create a zero-waste, circular economy,” says Mr Langford.