By Natalie Martin, 3R Group Materials Innovation Manager

New Zealand looks set to have a pretty big shake up in terms on how recyclables and food scraps are collected, with the Government announcing plans for a container return scheme (CRS), significant reforms to kerbside collections and a separation of businesses’ food waste.

The Transforming Recycling consultation document put out by the Ministry for the Environment in March proposes the implementation of a CRS to incentivise beverage container recovery through a redeemable 20c deposit on all beverage containers under 3L. However, fresh non-flavoured diary milk will be excluded.

The Ministry has recommended a mixed return model using supermarkets as the primary return points through a network with a degree of mandated take back, alongside other drop-off points and voluntary retail participation.

Currently, all beverage container materials are included in the proposal, but the glass industry has made an argument for improving its 75% recovery rate through a regulated scheme that leverages existing infrastructure – excluding it from the CRS. This form of stewardship would include non-beverage glass containers, which are not covered by the proposed CRS. The Government proposes to have a CRS up and running by 2025.

The second part of the consultation looks at an overhaul of the household kerbside recycling system, with a focus on standardising collections nationwide and including food scrap collections. The aim is to improve both the quality and amount of recyclables being recovered as well as prevent food waste going to landfill, due to the climate change impact it has. This standardisation would also pave the way for a standardised recyclability labelling system such as what Australia uses. It’s proposed the changes would take effect across all councils by 2030.

Finally, the proposal looks at requiring businesses to separate food waste. The Ministry estimates businesses produce around 25% of the food waste sent to landfills (approximately 75,000 tonnes) and is recommending a phased approach to this requirement. Other options proposed are a phased-in approach for only businesses which produce or sell food or banning the disposal of food to landfill altogether.

The proposals in this consultation document will certainly have a significant impact on the food and beverage industry so I highly recommend having a read and making a submission, the deadline being 8 May.

Natalie Martin is the materials innovation manager at 3R Group in Hawke’s Bay. She has a background in food technology and over 10 years’ experience in new product development for FMCG and still supports the industry as a consultant. At 3R, Natalie works in new product development for various waste streams, including packaging.

The information and opinions within this column are not necessarily the views or opinions of Hot Source, NZ Food Technology, or the parent company, Hayley Media.