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Glass price drop makes Accord shortcomings clear

3 December 2004

Glass price drop makes Accord shortcomings clear

Green MP Mike Ward is today warning that a dive in the price paid for glass cullet exposes the inadequacy of the Government's voluntary Packaging Accord. His call comes ahead of a meeting of Accord signatories next week to discuss the drop's ramifications for the recycling industry.

ACI Glass, New Zealand's major glass re-processor, has told its suppliers that it will soon be paying much less for glass cullet (existing glass put back into the glassmaking process), a move prompted by the number of bottles being imported. From January the price they will pay for all glass cullet will drop from $92 to $75 per tonne and then in May the price paid for clear glass cullet will further drop from $75 to $10 per tonne.

"The glass container industry came up with an action plan as part of the recently signed Packaging Accord, wherein they made a commitment to provide a dependable market for bottle and jar collectors; surely this is now under threat," said Mr Ward, the Green Party's Waste-free Spokesperson.

"If Marion Hobbs and the other signatories are sincere about moving the Packaging Accord forward, they will have to commit to a move towards reusing, rather than reprocessing, bottles and jars.

"ACI is simply responding to the market, in that the supply of their raw material is growing faster than the demand for their final product.

"Clearly the economic viability of onshore reprocessing is at risk because importing products already packaged in glass bottles and jars is cheaper than using glass made here. The flood of imported glass packaging is making cullet much cheaper, but this doesn't translate into cheaper indigenous glass production, it just make it less worthwhile to re-gather glass for reprocessing. "From an energy-use point of view, glass bottles should be made here rather than imported, but if that can't be done, glass containers that end up here should be reused.

"The glass cullet situation undermines the Government's claim that a voluntary Packaging Accord with industry is the best way to stem the ever-increasing flow of such waste. The Greens have consistently argued that this approach is too little and is rapidly becoming too late. What is needed to slow the generation of packaging waste and increase recovery rates of materials is stronger legislative measures to make producers, especially importers, more responsible for the life of their packaging.

"To make a bottle, fill it and then ship it thousands of kilometres, then use it once before its broken and reprocessed is an enormous waste of energy. To not recycle it at all but bury in one of our bulging landfills instead is even worse. Reuse of imported bottles is a solution of sorts, only using bottles made here would be better - it is time the mechanisms were put in place to make these options possible and attractive," said Mr Ward.


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