Tuesday, March 13, 2007


Container deposit legislation (CDL) has hit the headlines again. I've posted about it reasonably frequently - most recently in December when I highlighted the Great NZ Bottle Drive campaign.

The Packaging Council have replied to the latest CDL push - citing their own research findings that CDL would cost up to $121m p.a. They state that this cost far outweighs the cost to councils for kerbside recycling.

In my opinion this is a cost to the environment that the "containered" products themselves should bear. At the moment we as ratepayers (directly as property owners or indirectly as tenants) pay for the cost of recycling yet large amounts of packaging that could be diverted still get landfilled.

Any increase in cost will probably be passed to the consumer. But as I say, these are the real costs. Producers that are able to implement the most efficient means of collecting their returned packaging will be more price competitive. It's a classic example of efficiency through economic incentive.

Aside from cost, much of the industry criticism of CDL is founded on logistics. "Shops have insufficient space to store returned material" - I agree. "Food standards mean that containers wont be re-used" - I agree. But these arguments are based on looking at business as usual. CDL is yet another example of attempts to change the way business is conducted.

Much external infrastructure exists that can be utilised by those that will need to process the extra material. Councils contract out recycling services. Why can't industry do the same?

It's simply not good enough to accept sending usable "waste" to landfill. Voluntary mechanisms such as the Packaging Accord have been very limited in their success. Mandatory measures backed with an accurate economic framework make sense.

Update: 15th March - Business NZ say the "Waste Minimisation (Solids) Bill [is] an overreaction to the issue of waste. And that "Industry-led solutions for specific waste management issues and improved education are better alternatives." Yeah right.

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