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Packaging Accord helps keep glass recycling going

26 May 2005

Media Statement
Packaging Accord helps keep glass recycling going

Environment Minister Marian Hobbs says she is delighted that key players in the glass packaging industry have reached an agreement to help keep glass recycling going.

The Packaging Accord Governing Board Chair, Tony Nowell, has announced that many of the brand owners and producers using glass packaging will pay a six month voluntary levy on imported glass. The levy will also contribute to funding work on a longer term solution. About 90 percent of brand owners and producers using glass packaging are accord members.

The detail of the glass levy will now be discussed with local government and recyclers.

"The glass sector has shown it is prepared to take more responsibility for the waste packaging its products create – and more industry responsibility for reducing this waste is an underlying principle of the Packaging Accord," Marian Hobbs said. "The voluntary levy is a positive step and shows the desire of industry to deliver on their accord commitments."

New Zealand currently recovers more glass than it can handle. ACI Glass, the country's main glass recycler, has dropped its prices for used glass because of market changes and an excess of clear glass that is more difficult for it to recycle.

Last year around 95,000 tonnes of used glass was collected, about half of the glass packaging used in this country. ACI can recycle about 70,000 tonnes in its production of new glass. The remainder is stockpiled or sent to Australia for processing.

"Communities are right behind glass recycling and it is an integral part of kerbside collections," Marian Hobbs said. "Over 95 per cent of the population has access to glass recycling and it's essential for our environment that recycling continues.

"I am very pleased that the levy will help sustain glass collections for the time being. There's still a need to increase markets for recycled glass, and the accord partners, including government, now face the challenge of working on a longer term solution.

"The government has made it clear from the outset that if the voluntary, industry-led approach of the Packaging Accord does not work then it would look at legislation."

The Packaging Accord is a voluntary industry agreement to reduce and reuse packaging. The accord includes targets to increase the amount of packaging recycled. It also covers paper, plastics, steel and aluminium.

ENDS

Background information

Almost all (99 per cent) of glass recycling takes place through ACI Glass in Auckland, the country’s only glass packaging manufacturer. ACI Glass uses recovered glass in the manufacture of new bottles and jars.

ACI’s plant can recycle about 70,000 tonnes of glass annually but is receiving more glass than it can use. The excess is stockpiled or exported to Australia for processing.

ACI glass has dropped the prices it pays for recovered glass:

from $92 per tonne to $75 per tonne for all glass from 1 Jan 2005, due to market changes in the price of used glass relative to raw materials, and
from $75 per tonne to $10 per tonne for clear glass from 1 May 2005, because of an increasing excess of clear glass, which is more difficult for ACI to recycle.

The voluntary levy will help restore the price for clear glass collected through ACI’s network.

In 2004 around 45 per cent of glass packaging used in New Zealand was imported, a significant proportion of which is clear glass.

Less than 3 per cent of New Zealand’s solid waste sent to landfill is glass.

About 85 percent of city and district councils operate glass recycling collections or systems, covering more than 95 percent of the population.

In some places in the South Island (eg, Central Otago, Timaru), glass from kerbside collections has been stockpiled for some time, given the costs associated with transporting it to Auckland. Glass is an “inert” waste and can be stockpiled for future use.

The Packaging Accord was launched in August 2004 to reduce waste and increase the amount of packaging that can be recovered and recycled.

Packaging Accord members include: organisations from key packaging sectors involved in steel, paper, plastics, aluminium and glass, as well as brand owners and retailers; Packaging Council of New Zealand, Recycling Operators New Zealand, Local Government New Zealand and the Ministry for the Environment. Accord membership is voluntary. It includes manufacturers representing 85 percent of New Zealand’s packaging production and 80 percent of the supermarket trade.

The Packaging Accord has national recovery targets for 2008 for the recycling of the five major packaging materials. These are (by weight, as a percentage of consumption):
70 per cent paper
65 per cent aluminium
55 per cent glass
43 per cent steel
23 per cent plastics

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