The Government is proposing a new recycling and waste management scheme that would give New Zealanders 20c every time they recycle a plastic bottle.
Environment Minister David Parker has announced a major overhaul for kerbside rubbish collection, recycling and food waste.
It would also standardise curbside collections around the country so that councils recycle the same materials, and households and businesses would be able to separate food scraps and stop putting organic waste into landfills.
Environment Minister David Parker says the aim is to encourage people to hand in their single use plastic bottles.
The scheme won't be rolled out until 2025, but it would see a 20c increase in price for drinks in single use plastic bottles, which is given back to consumers when they return their bottles.
Similar schemes existed for glass bottles in the past and were a staple of many a Kiwi kids' childhood, allowing keen collectors to supplement their pocket money with bottle returns, before the system was shelved in the 1980s.
The current proposal could see the equivalent of drink machines installed around the country which instead of dispensing drinks receive bottles and dole out cash.
Parker told Q+A with Jack Tame that in Queensland, where a similar buy-back scheme has been running for such a while, "people get their deposits back".
The Government says every year New Zealanders generate more than 17 tonnes of waste, and send more than 13 million of those to landfill.
"Our rates of recycling in New Zealand are about half of what they do in other countries that do it better."
Among the suggestions is standardising curbside collections across the country - the aim is to reduce confusion over what can be recycled, and also help businesses design packaging that can be recycled anywhere in NZ.
"This is something that councils are asking for too," Parker says.
"At the moment different rules apply in different parts of the country and it's very hard for the councils to run good educational campaigns to help people understand what should be recycled and what shouldn't. And as a consequence there's a lot of rubbish contaminating the recycling, and there's a lot of recycling going in the rubbish.
"So standardising that nationwide will mean that it's clearer for people and easier for them to do the right thing."
Auckland Mayor Phil Goff welcomed the changes and said local government had been calling for more action from central government for years.
"The deposit on single use containers can turn into great pocket money for enterprising kids. Returning cans, drink bottles and other recyclables helped fund many summer hobbies for young people when I was growing up," he said.
"Adding value to recyclables will motivate people to ensure these materials stay out of the rubbish bin and get properly recycled. An estimated 10% of our household rubbish bins in Auckland are actually materials that could be recycled."
Meanwhile, the Green Party also welcomed the changes but said more needed to be done on the issue.
"While we're delighted with the exciting new initiatives announced today, had a Green minister still been at the decision making table, we would have pushed for more, including more regulated product stewardship schemes and greater investment in food rescue."