Glass heroes – A trolley good idea to up hospitality glass recycling

Bin Hire sheet metal engineer Hana Montaperto with the glass recycling trolleys she and her team designed and built.

The team at Bin Hire recently developed a rather typical trolley into something which has the potential to help solve a long-running sustainability issue in New Zealand. The trolleys they designed to hold stacked glass crates were created to help make recycling easier for retirement village residents but could be a game-changer for the hospitality sector, which struggles to recycle its glass. We chatted to sheet metal engineer Hana Montaperto about the design.

Tell us about the trolleys.

Dan (Montaperto), who founded Bin Hire, bought a neat little truck for glass collection and asked me to come up with a receptacle to compliment it, so I sat there scribbling until we came up with the trolleys. This was about July last year (2020).

The design is actually so simple, but they work really well – they stand up in high winds, they are easy to move and to load. Making the idea reality was a real team effort, the workshop team put in some long hours to fabricate them to a deadline and had fun during the process.

Napier City Council put out a tender because they had identified that the recycling bins on the roadside weren’t working for some retirement villages. When you have 80 units in a village, that number of recycling bins on the kerbside is a massive hazard, or some of the elderly residents couldn’t carry them out.

The trolleys reduced the space the bins take up, make them easier to move and meant you could have a communal station where folks can bring their recyclables. It also became something more social for the people in the villages, so it went beyond just recycling.

The hospitality industry obviously goes through a lot of glass but struggles to recycle it. How will these trolleys help?

In hospitality it’s very busy, staff are under the pump, and they have space constraints a lot of the time too. Moving one big bin full of glass also isn’t something everyone can do either, so if you have these little bins anyone can carry them.

They can be kept under the bar and the different coloured glass bottles can go in each one and they are carried out easily. You could even bring the trolley in and use it to wheel them out. The trolleys are so small they will fit in back alleys or hospitality service sites.

Cost is another issue facing the industry when it comes to recycling glass. We’re going to rent the trolleys out at $10 a month so it’s very affordable.

I really hope that with this system there won’t be a reason not to recycle glass in hospitality venues anymore.

The trolleys got the attention of the Glass Packaging Forum, which awarded you a $19,000 grant. How has that helped?

We were always going to do the trolleys, but the grant has meant we can upgrade our glass storage capacity and promote the trolleys, so we can really focus on this and do it at a bigger scale.

Instead of this just being with Council and existing Bin Hire customers, we want to tackle the hospitality issue head on. As soon as harvest is finished, we want to arrange an event where I can speak to as many members of the hospitality industry as possible about this solution.

Tell us a bit about Bin Hire?

It was started about 10 years ago by Dan in a paddock on a concrete pad, recycling everything he could. It basically started with him pulling bottles out the rubbish.

It’s always been about recycling and waste diversion for us – to the extent that in the office and the workshop we recycle everything we can, or compost leftovers from our lunches.

We have recycling for commercial premises, and we rent out skips, wheelie bins and trolleys to businesses and private homes all over Hawke’s bay. Everything that is collected is sorted here and we divert everything that we can.

We also run Black Bridge transfer station (outside Haumoana). Again, there we divert everything we can. Its more costly in terms of labour but you save in landfill cost too, plus it’s the ethical way to do it. Most of our staff are really passionate about it – they do really like it and they get a kick out of it when they save something from landfill that can have another use.

The sellable stuff we put on our second-hand shop on TradeMe.