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Alexandra and Wanaka’s pioneering recycling organisation, Wastebusters, welcomes the Government’s proposed beverage container return scheme, saying its zero waste hubs are raring to go.

Wastebusters general manager Tony Pfeiffer said that after more than a decade of campaigning, Wastebusters was thrilled to have a government proposal for a container return scheme on the table.

Under the proposed scheme, a 20c refundable deposit would incentivise recycling of beverage containers, which lags in New Zealand at about 50%.

Based on overseas evidence, Environment Minister David Parker expected the scheme could boost recycling of such containers by 85% to 90%.

Mr Pfeiffer said New Zealand statistics for recycling containers were startling.

‘‘It’s quite shocking that as a nation we buy over two billion drinks a year, but only one billion containers are recycled, meaning that the other billion containers are landfilled, stockpiled or become litter,’’ he said.

To be effective and fair, the scheme should cover all beverage containers — including milk, which was excluded from the proposal, he said.

Wastebusters employs more than 60 people in reuse, recycling and education at its Wanaka and Alexandra sites, diverting waste from landfill.

The vision of both communities in setting up Wastebusters’ zero waste hubs more than 20 years ago had really paid off.

‘‘Our zero waste hubs are recognised as leaders in community resource recovery and zero waste education.’’

They were ‘‘ready to go’’ as container recycling depots to help maximise the benefit of the proposed scheme.

The scheme should cover the costs of recycling for beverage containers, freeing up funds for waste reduction, he said.

The proposals to transform recycling released by Mr Parker includes accepting the same materials for kerbside recycling nationwide, adding food scrap bins to collections and mandatory separation of food scraps from rubbish for businesses.