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New glass recycling options will be developed

28 February 2005

New glass recycling options will be developed

The Packaging Accord will provide the solution to finding new options for recycling glass, Environment Minister Marian Hobbs said today.

"The Ministry for the Environment is working with industry groups, including glass manufacturers and importers, to determine ways that used glass can be better managed and reused," Marian Hobbs said.

There has been an increase in the amount of glass being recovered, as New Zealanders get better at recycling. Most of the glass produced in New Zealand can be recycled and used in this country.

However, there has been an increase in the amount of glass being imported, some of which is less suitable for recycling. Imported glass now makes up over 36 per cent of glass consumed in New Zealand (2003 estimate).

The Packaging Accord is a voluntary industry agreement to reduce and reuse packaging.

New Zealand’s biggest manufacturer and recycler of glass, Packaging Accord member ACI Glass Packaging, undertakes more than 99 per cent of the glass recycling in New Zealand. They report they are increasingly unable to recycle all the imported glass, as much of it is clear flint glass, which is less suitable for recycling, Marian Hobbs said. This has resulted in a price drop for recovered glass, with a further drop scheduled for May 2005.

"The Packaging Accord is the best tool to resolve how we handle the increasing amount of used glass being collected," Marian Hobbs said.

Since December 2004, ACI Glass and all the major glass importers have met on four occasions under the accord to discuss possible options. These include: glass importers agreeing to voluntarily take greater responsibility for their glass once it has been used; companies using more locally produced glass rather than importing it from overseas; and developing new business opportunities to reuse and recycle glass.

"While I am disappointed that this issue is not resolved, I recognise that this is a complex issue, I retain confidence in industry delivering a long-term and sustainable solution through the accord," Marian Hobbs said.

"However, if some parties don’t want to get involved, we may have to look at introducing legislation to require packaging producers and importers to take responsibility for their packaging at the end of its life cycle." The voluntary Packaging Accord was launched in August to reduce waste and increase the amount of packaging that can be recycled. Under the accord, producers of glass and other recyclable materials, brand owners and recyclers have agreed to consider the full packaging lifecycle of packaging – from initial need and design to what happens when the packaging is no longer needed.

The Packaging Accord was developed by the Ministry for the Environment and the Packaging Council of New Zealand, with support from Local Government New Zealand and the Recycling Operators of New Zealand (RONZ).

Companies and manufacturers not yet signed up to the accord are encouraged to join the accord and be an active part of the solution, Marian Hobbs said.

ENDS


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