Grant helps keep Upper Hutt glass recycling on the up

The upgraded recycling drop-off station in Park Street was part funded by a grant from the Glass Packaging Forum. Photo: Upper Hutt City Council

Glass recycling in Upper Hutt has become quicker, easier and more convenient thanks to a grant from the Glass Packaging Forum.

The $10,000 grant has helped the Upper Hutt City Council upgrade its recycling drop-off centre in Park Street. According to Council Waste Minimisation Officer Millie Porter the centre is of particular importance as rates-funded kerbside recycling collections stopped in 2014.

However, residents who want kerbside collections can still pay for a private contractor, she says.

Millie says the council has received good feedback from the public since the upgrades were completed in late April.

The centre was set up in December 2016 with the volume of material quickly increasing, Millie says. As a result, demand exceeded capacity and council added the extension of the site, at a total cost of $50,000, to the Long Term Plan.

The bigger site features a second container for residents to put recyclables into as well as a “swap out” container for colour-separated glass bottles and jars, she says. The grant from the Forum was used for the glass recycling container.

“The centre features a walkway between the container bins with a ledge that will allow residents to sort their recycling and ensure contamination is minimised,” Millie says. The upgraded centre also has improved disability access and will be open 24/7, she says.

Glass Packaging Forum scheme manager Dominic Salmon says it has never been more important to ensure packaging material such as glass gets recycled. “Recently some councils, including Upper Hutt City Council, have announced residents can no longer recycle plastic types 3 to 7 due to recyclers being unable to find markets for the material.”

Dominic says he is concerned the changes to plastic recycling will affect 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, he says.

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 recycling your glass bottles and jars.”