Glass Packaging Forum welcomes Government’s decisive action to reduce waste to landfill

The Government’s announcement that it is working towards co-designed and regulated product stewardship for a number of products, including packaging, is a huge step in the right direction for New Zealand’s war on waste, says the Glass Packaging Forum (GPF).

Associate Minister for the Environment Eugenie Sage today announced a consultation process will begin on the proposed declaration of packaging as a priority product, including glass beverage containers less than 4 litres in volume.

Packaging is one of six possible priority products announced by the Minister, alongside tyres, e-waste, refrigerants and other synthetic gases, agrichemicals and their containers, and farm plastics.

“The Glass Packaging Forum has more than 100 member brands, including New Zealand’s only glass manufacturer O-I, which voluntarily contribute levies directly towards the product stewardship of all container glass including beverage glass,” says GPF programme manager Dominic Salmon.

“The members of this very successful scheme which currently captures over 62% of the total container glass sold in New Zealand welcomes a level playing field where all importers, fillers and distributors of glass beverage containers will have to contribute to stewardship.  This will mean we can expand our existing funding for infrastructure and projects that increase the quality and quantity of container glass available for recycling and help us achieve the goal of capturing 82% by 2024.”

“If the declaration of packaging, inclusive of glass beverage containers, goes ahead following the consultation period, then regulated product stewardship schemes will have to be set up, or voluntary schemes re-accredited under a regulatory framework.  This will see all those involved in the supply chain take responsibility for their container glass at the end-of-life by being reused, repurposed or recycled,” says Dominic.

The Glass Packaging Forum currently manages New Zealand’s only accredited voluntary product stewardship scheme for glass bottles and jars; one of the country’s longest running schemes, having first been accredited in 2010.

“The Ministry has noted co-mingled recycling systems – where recycled material isn’t separated by type at source – exacerbates costs and reduces the recyclability and value of collected materials,” Dominic says.

“We agree that best practice for container glass collections is separated at source, similar to that introduced by Tauranga City Council earlier this year with help from a $165,000 grant from the Glass Packaging Forum.” 

Dominic says the industry is seeing 40% to 45% loss of glass through co-mingled collections, affecting glass recycling rates, as well as contaminating other materials, such as fibre. “A regulated stewardship scheme will be even better resourced to reduce co-mingling through increased availability of targeted funding for effective collection systems.  It will also support ratepayer’s kerbside collection services which is currently accessible to approximately 84% of New Zealanders.”

To date the GPF has awarded over $3.3 million in grants for projects which improve the quality and quantity of container glass available for recycling. “The grants are funded through voluntary levies paid by the GPF members who represent 85% of the market by packaging weight. The GPF also works with councils, recyclers and waste management companies to improve container glass recycling across the country through improvements in infrastructure, plant and equipment,” says Dominic.

Glass is a highly sustainable packaging material, with glass bottles and jars produced by the country’s only container glass manufacturer, O-I New Zealand, in Auckland containing 69% recycled glass.

“This is a great example of the circular economy in action, right here in New Zealand,” Dominic says.

You can view Associate Minister Eugenie Sage’s media release and the Ministry for the Environment’s consultation document.