Big boost for Whanganui’s glass recycling

Clear glass is offloaded into one of the new storage bunkers at the Whanganui Resource Recovery Centre.

Recycling just got a whole lot easier and more impactful for Whanganui residents after the council rolled out its new, best practice kerbside collection service.

The service means residents get separate recycling crates for glass, paper and cardboard, and plastic and tins. This not only makes recycling more convenient but means far more glass, and other recyclables, will get recycled, says Whanganui District Council Waste Advisor Stuart Hylton.

“The introduction of this rates-funded service is expected to double the amount of glass diverted for landfill so it can be recycled,” Stuart says. 

A $52,000 grant from the Glass Packaging Forum (GPF) for new glass storage bunkers means there will be sufficient space for the expected increase so it can be transported in bulk. “The old bunkers were too small for the expected increase in glass and risked it being contaminated,” Stuart says.

Whanganui had been one of a few districts which didn’t have kerbside recycling, with residents having to take recyclables to the Whanganui Resource Recovery Centre. “The old approach of recycling at the resource recovery centre had challenges, but this new kerbside system is far more convenient,” Stuart says.

The glass is sorted into its three colours – green, brown and clear – when its collected, which makes it highly recyclable, he says.

GPF Scheme Manager Dominic Salmon commends the council for using the industry best-practice method for collecting glass and other recyclables.

“Collecting glass separately and colour-sorting it has been shown to greatly increase how much gets recycled. It also improves the recyclability of other materials as there is far less chance for contamination by mixing them together in one bin,” Dominic says.

Recycling glass reduces emissions as the furnace, in Auckland, can run at a lower temperature when using recycled material. It also reduces the need for virgin materials and the emissions which result from their extraction, transport, and use, Dominic says.

GPF members represent the majority of the container glass industry. It has a goal of zero glass to landfill, and has, to date, awarded over $4.1 million in grants for projects to improve environmental outcomes for glass, with funding coming from member levies.

A before an after of the glass storage bunkers, illustrating how glass spilling over caused contamination and reduced quality.