A report by Envision New Zealand has revealed that millions of dollars worth of government grants to increase beverage container recycling have made little impact on the country’s poor recycling rates.

The report states that the $7m in grants assigned by the New Zealand Government for initiatives to recycle beverage containers has not been judicially utilised.

Funded by a number of councils and businesses, the report advocates bottle refunds such as cash for containers to boost recycling rates, and urges the government to discontinue voluntary measures.

"There’s nothing like a financial incentive to get people to recycle."

The report also recommends the adoption of a mandatory container deposit scheme (CDS) to ensure that the empty bottles are returned to recycling centres or shops, in exchange of a small refund.

According to Envision, the CDS will cost the beverage industry half a cent for each container while increasing beverage container recycling every year by 45,000t.

Envision business development director Warren Snow said: "You won’t see bottles lying in the gutter, tossed over banks or drifting out to the sea when they are worth ten cents."

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"There’s nothing like a financial incentive to get people to recycle."

Envision has also developed a model for a nationwide bottle deposit scheme that will enable businesses to set up roughly 200 drop-off points where people can claim their refund.

The implementation of the new model is expected to lift recycling rates to 85% while also creating up to 2,400 new jobs.

The beverage recycling rates in New Zealand are low when compared with countries that have imposed mandatory deposits, including Canada, South Australia and some European countries.