​Plastic beverage containers are one of the most common single-use plastic packaged products. These are manufactured onshore or imported as packaged goods. Two groups have estimated the production and recovery of beverage containers in Aotearoa New Zealand using different approaches. Other groups have used data from these studies to perform cost-benefit analysis of a container deposit scheme, but have not provided new estimates themselves.[1]

  • Waste Not Consulting: Data from members of the Packaging Forum were shared with the group confidentially to be aggregated for analysis.[2]
    • Consumption data: Direct from some major brand owners but not independently verified; relied on market share estimates from brand owners to extrapolate consumption data.
    • Recovery data: Tonnages by material type direct from four recyclers and Fonterra but not independently verified. Used proportion of recovered material that were beverage containers from one recycler as well as information on geographical locations and populations to extrapolate data. Lack of data from one of Auckland’s recyclers is a limitation that particularly affects PET (#1) and HDPE (#2) estimates.
  • Envision: Data were derived from international data.[3] Note: Limitations in the methods used by this study have been discussed in detail.[4]
    • Consumption data: Per capita consumption rates were based on consumption data from South Australia who have an established CDS and converted to tonnage data. To validate estimates, data were also compared that from British Columbia in Canada and Western Australia.
    • Recovery data: Estimates based on questionnaire data from 16 Aotearoa New Zealand local authority representatives on the volumes of beverage containers recovered through kerbside and public space recycling programmes.

Estimated rates of consumption and recovery of plastic beverage containers in Aotearoa New Zealand

Consumption (tonnes)Recovery (tonnes)Recovery rate
Waste Not ConsultingPET (#1)13,977806658%
HDPE (#2)13,512545540%
EnvisionPET (#1)14,274Not reported40%*
HDPE (#2)10,686Not reported40%*

*Estimated in this report to be below 40% and possibly as low as 30%

A material flow analysis of PET bottles through Aotearoa New Zealand estimated around 14,200 tonnes consumed annually, with 7,500 tonnes recovered (details in Appendix 11).

Information on the number of beverages produced/consumed and recovered/landfilled in Aotearoa New Zealand is not readily or easily available. The estimates of the tonnes of PET (#1) and HDPE (#2) consumed through beverage containers differ between the two methods and both are limited by the reliance on industry-reported data without audit by a third party. This makes understanding the potential impacts of efforts to improve plastic recovery, such as container deposit schemes, difficult. There is a need for comprehensive, verified data.


[1] Covec Ltd, “Evaluating the Costs and Benefits of Introducing a Container Deposit System for New Zealand: Summary of Analysis “, 2016 And Preston Davies, “Cost-Benefit Analysis of a Container Deposit Scheme: Report for the Auckland Council “, 2017

[2] Waste Not Consulting, “National Recovery Rate for Beverage Containers”, 2018

[3] Envision, “The Incentive to Recycle: The Case for a Container Deposit System in New Zealand “, 2015

[4] W Snow, “Costs and Benefits of a Container Deposit Scheme for New Zealand: Review of the Packaging Forum’s 2016 Cba of a Cds for New Zealand”, 2016

More case studies

Reducing the carbon footprint of plastics by using recycled plastic

Can recycling contribute to reducing the carbon footprint of plastic?