Glass not affected by recycling changes

Glass Packaging Forum scheme manager Dominic Salmon.

Residents in a growing number of regions may not be able to recycle much of their plastic packaging anymore, but that shouldn’t discourage them from recycling glass, paper, cardboard and metal, say the Glass Packaging Forum.

The Forum, which runs the country’s only accredited product stewardship scheme for container glass, is appealing to the public to remember glass is one of the most easily recyclable packaging materials. “Glass bottles and jars are recycled right here in New Zealand,” says Forum manager Dominic Salmon. “People should absolutely continue to recycle them as throwing glass in landfill is a huge waste of resources. Glass also never breaks down in a landfill.”

The change to local plastic recycling, which affects Napier, Hastings, Hutt City, Upper Hutt, Gisborne, Whakatane and Waitaki, means only plastic with a number 1 or 2 recycling symbol will be accepted and comes as recyclers struggle to find markets for the material.

However, Dominic is concerned the changes to plastic recycling will change general attitudes to other recyclable materials, such as glass. “Recycling glass remains a great solution. It is 100% recyclable and can be recycled an infinite number of times.”

Recycled glass, called cullet, goes to the country’s only glass bottle and jar manufacturer O-I New Zealand in Auckland where it is used to make new glass containers. The average recycled glass content for O-I New Zealand is 67 percent.

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,” says Dominic.  “Well worth the effort to continue putting your glass bottles and jars in the kerbside recycling or taking them to a recycling centre.”