Bay youth takes on the Beehive

Jake Hoffart has asked NZ First MP Clayton Mitchell to create a member’s bill to mandate a container deposit system in New Zealand. Photo: Bruce Barnard.

“Bottles don’t belong in gutters,” says Tauranga teenager Jake Hoffart.

“I spend a lot of time outdoors and I constantly see cans and bottles littering our beaches and parks and lying in streets – it’s pretty ridiculous.”

This 16-year-old has a plan to make New Zealand’s clean, green image a reality rather than a slogan.

Jake wants to change the way Kiwis recycle – he reckons the solution is easy – so he’s taking the issue to Parliament next year.

Jake is one of 121 Youth MPs who will sit in the Beehive in July 2016 – and he’s already spoken to his sponsor NZ First MP Clayton Mitchell about a proposal to boost recycling rates in NZ.

“I’ve asked Clayton whether he would be keen to create a member’s bill that brings a mandatory Container Deposit System to New Zealand,” says Jake.

So why is Jake so passionate and knowledgeable about recycling? His father Marty Hoffart was an advisor on a new report InCENTive to Recycle.

The report calls for reintroduction of a mandatory deposit system, where everything from aluminium cans to wine bottles and plastic 2L bottles can be returned to recycling depots for a small refund.

Producers would charge about 10 cents extra per beverage container and consumers would receive this amount back when returning the item.

The CDS would cost the beverage industry half a cent (0.5 cents) per container but would save at least 700 million extra beverage containers going to landfill every year.

Marty, who chairs the Community Recycling Network, featured in The Weekend Sun a few weeks back championing the cause.

“My father helped with the report and has been involved in recycling education for 20 years,” says Jake.

“I’ve personally seen how it works in other countries and I have wondered for a long time why we didn’t have it here.

“The report explains that’s because it’s a pain for the big beverage companies and I think that’s not good enough. The same companies do it overseas, why not do it here.”

Jake says our current system is “really ineffective and CDS would virtually eliminate a massive waste problem”.

“In every other country that has implemented the scheme, it works; the public really like it and the question here is why don’t we have it?”

Current kerbside recycling sees containers collected and mixed together “and you lose a lot of the value because they’re mixed up and glass gets smashed”.

The deposit system recognises that clean recyclables have a higher value. “And when a value is placed on something – even if you won’t necessarily collect the refund yourself, somebody else will.

“If every beverage container had a refundable value, we’d instantly stop seeing bottles and cans lying about on our streets, in the ocean and our rivers.

“No one is going to throw away money.”

Jake says deposits on containers will create an estimated 2400 jobs and will more than double NZ’s current recycling rate of 40 per cent. “The target for us, is 85 per cent.”

“We currently have more than 1 billion beverage containers going to landfill right now.”

Clayton says Jake’s energy, initiative and his ideas are exciting and refreshing.

“I’ve already started looking at the research around this topic with Jake and am keen to help him draft his very own Youth Member’s Bill, which he will hopefully get the opportunity to debate on the House floor during the Youth Parliament session next July.

“This is a great opportunity for Jake and I’m excited to be a part of it.

“Who knows where it could lead.”