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Government funding a thumbs up for model glass recycling

The announcement of $256,500 for Tauranga’s glass recycling service is a strong endorsement by Government of colour-sorted, kerbside glass collection, says Glass Packaging Forum scheme manager Dominic Salmon.

The funding, which was officially announced today (18 July) by Associate Minister for the Environment Eugenie Sage, was used to roll out the Tauranga City Council’s interim, rates-funded kerbside glass recycling service. The service, which also received $165,000 of funding from the Glass Packaging Forum, began in October 2018 and has shown excellent results in diverting glass bottles and jars from landfill, Dominic says.

The council will be extending the glass kerbside collection service to include mixed recycling, rubbish and organic waste in 2021.

“The reintroduction of this service and its operation since October 2018 has been a great success. It is on track to help divert from landfill 6,000 tonnes of glass waste generated in Tauranga each year,” says Minister Sage.

This is double the amount of glass being diverted from landfill a year ago, says Dominic. “The quality of the recovered material is also very high, ensuring it can be recycled back into bottles and jars at the furnace in Auckland, time and time again.”

In comparison, co-mingled collections – where everything goes in one bin and is not separated on the collection truck – results in substantial losses. “We are seeing 40% to 45% loss of glass through co-mingled collections, affecting glass recycling rates, as well as contaminating other materials, such as cardboard and paper,” Dominic says.

“Separation of glass at kerbside, like that introduced in Tauranga and supported by numerous other councils, solves contamination problems and provides high value materials for recycling. It’s absolutely the best option for glass in New Zealand.”

According to Dominic, the funding shows recognition by Government that a separate kerbside collection service for glass is the best solution and they are working to support it. “Currently we have a 62.4% capture rate for glass in New Zealand, with that rate only set to increase through collaborations like this between council, industry and government.”

Glass recycling in New Zealand is an example of the circular economy in action, with recycled glass going to the country’s only glass bottle and jar manufacturer O-I New Zealand in Auckland to be made into new containers, Dominic says.

Using cullet in production reduces the need for virgin material – in fact, 1kg of recycled glass replaces 1.2kg of virgin materials. It also means the furnaces can run at a lower temperature so there are less emissions, Dominic says. According to the latest information from O-I, every 10% of recycled glass content reduces emissions by 5% and generates energy savings of approximately 3%.

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