Challenging changes to Tauranga’s glass recycling

The Tauranga City Council and Glass Packaging Forum are working together to improve glass recycling in the region amid recent changes to the recycling landscape.

The Forum recognises the challenges these changes have created and have been in discussions with the Council to help prevent glass, that would otherwise have been collected for recycling, ending up in landfill. The Forum applauds the Council for moving quickly to establish a new kerbside collection service.

The Council is aiming to have the new rates-funded, council-run kerbside glass collection operating this year.

In the interim an initial grant of just over $30,000 from the Forum will see the capacity of the glass storage bays at the Te Maunga Transfer Station nearly double as the Council prepares for an influx of glass for recycling. This follows the decision by Waste Management NZ (WMNZ) to stop accepting glass with mixed kerbside recyclables at their material recovery facility (MRF).

The decision took effect at the beginning of March and affected all kerbside collectors in the region as they take their mixed recyclable material to the MRF, says Tauranga City Council Senior Waste Officer Murray Kliskey.

However, the grant should help alleviate expected pressure on the Te Maunga site and ensure glass that comes in can be effectively colour-sorted and stored prior to being sent back to the furnace in Auckland for recycling.

The Forum will continue discussions with the Council on how best to divert the remaining glass back to recycling and is considering other funding applications from the area.

In line with their decision to cease collections, WMNZ implemented the “Bins for Better Communities” scheme which provided glass-only deposit sites in Tauranga. “The customer will have the choice of using the community bins option, or, taking their glass with the rest of their recyclables to the transfer stations located in the Tauranga City or Western Bay of Plenty,” Murray says.

He explains that this, along with an existing increase in glass coming via the five transfer stations in the region, Council will see a significant increase in glass coming through the Te Maunga Transfer Station.

The facility is already at its glass storage capacity, so the Forum have stepped in to help fund the enlargement of the concrete pad and glass bays used to store glass. The bigger pad and bays, which will be operational from March 1, will nearly double the storage capacity from 2,800 to 5,300 tonnes of glass per year.