As I throw another heavy, green, glass bottle of Merlot-enjoyed into my recycle bin, I marvel at the fact that it couldn’t have been saved before the recycling man comes along and smashes it into smithereens. Now, news that glass bottles, not the much-talked about supermarket plastic bag, is the biggest eco-disaster in NZ waste…

Bottles, not plastic bags, are the biggest waste problem for the average shopper.

That’s according to New Zealand waste reduction consultant, Warren Snow.

He has called for a return to the bottle refund scheme in force in NZ in the 1970s and 1980s.

The bottles can be refilled several times before being melted down for new packaging, he said.

Snow told the NZ Herald that unlike longer-lasting items, such as cleaning products, a person might get through between four and six drink containers a day.

In Germany, drinks companies were refilling bottles up to 18 times, under a law requiring 70% of bottles to be recovered – vastly reducing household waste, he added.

A 2007 report he co-authored found nearly one billion containers a year could be diverted from NZ landfill if a refundable deposit of 10 cents were put on all drink bottles.

However, a ShapeNZ report commissioned by the Business Council for Sustainable Development shortly afterwards found that although many people supported a charge, most wanted to pay too little to make the scheme work.

The Glass Packaging Forum said reintroducing the scheme “makes no sense economically and would have a very small reduction on the amount of glass recovered”.

Ministry for the Environment spokesman Paul Kennel said people should tell the government what they thought about bottle deposits by commenting on the ministry’s waste minimisation discussion document.

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