Funding top-up boosts Wairoa glass recycling, sustainability

The new storage bunkers Wairoa’s refuse transfer station means up to an extra 150 tonnes of glass can be recycled each year.

Recyclable glass ending up in landfill due to space constraints has become a thing of the past in Wairoa.

This, thanks in part to a grant of $25,000 from the Glass Packaging Forum, which helped the Wairoa District Council build new, bigger glass storage bunkers at the town’s refuse transfer station.

Council Property Manager Luke Knight says previously any glass which could not be stored in the old, smaller bunkers went to landfill. However, the new bunkers, which cost a total of $94,000, will eliminate this and see up to 150 tonnes more glass being recycled each year rather than being wasted in landfill. The GPF grant means the council’s contribution is $69,000, he says.

“The Glass Packaging Forum’s grant means we are able to prevent more material from going in the landfill and actually recycle more.  The glass bunkers will also give us greater flexibility around coordinating loads for removal and help to manage peak demand over the summer months.”

Glass Packaging Forum Scheme Manager Dominic Salmon says the new bunkers are a simple but very effective way for the council to improve sustainability. “Increasing storage capacity is also critical to a viable and efficient collection and recycling model,” says Dominic. “It means fewer freight movements and more cost-effective transport which is why the GPF has provided investment for similar projects around the country.”

Glass is one of the most sustainable packaging materials in New Zealand, he says. “It is infinitely recyclable and is recycled right here in New Zealand, at glass bottle and jar manufacturer O-I New Zealand in Auckland.”

Using cullet in production reduces the need for virgin material – in fact, 1kg of recycled glass replaces 1.2kg of virgin materials.  It also means the furnaces can run at a lower temperature so there are less emissions, Dominic says.  According to the latest information from O-I, every 10 percent of recycled glass content reduces emissions by 5 percent and generates energy savings of approximately 3 percent. 

“A great little statistic we’d love people to keep in mind when doing their recycling is that the energy saved by recycling a single bottle could light a 15-watt low-energy light bulb for 24 hours,” Dominic says.