Grant helps take glass recycling to the people

Xtreme Zero Waste Raglan senior processor Kaleb Kingi, left, and processor Sean Dillon separate glass into the new trailer.

Revelers at festivals and events around the Waikato will have little excuse not to recycle their glass bottles this coming summer after a grant doubled Xtreme Zero Waste’s ability to collect glass.

The grant, of $25,000 from the Glass Packaging Forum (GPF), has enabled the Raglan-based community enterprise to buy a new purpose-built trailer, which will be used to collect glass bottles at events around the region. General Manager Relationships and Finance Rick Thorpe says Xtreme Zero Waste services events around the Waikato, which are attended by tens of thousands of people each year.

“Over the last couple of years, we have been contracted to manage waste for the Soundsplash music festival, Waikato Home & Garden Show, World Sevens Rugby Tournament, Raglan Creative Market, Waikato Rocks Festival, surf events and around 30 private events each year. Many of these events are annual and we have been providing recycling solutions for up to 12 years in a row.”

Glass Packaging Forum scheme manager Dominic Salmon says Xtreme Zero Waste have been doing an exemplary job of diverting waste from landfill, and the GPF is more than happy to help them increase their reach.

“Improving the amount of colour-sorted glass going back to the furnace is the primary aim of the GPF and this trailer will absolutely achieve this,” Dominic says.

The trailer is a replica of one they have owned and used for some years as part of their events contracts and kerbside recycling collections. It features aluminum bins designed to be removed with a forklift and put directly onto a hook bin for delivery by truck to New Zealand’s only glass bottle and jar manufacturer, O-I NZ in Auckland, Rick says.

The new trailer will not only double their mobile capacity but address health and safety risks, he says. “This trailer will stay onsite at the events and be used to colour-sort the glass directly into the bins and transport it back to the centre when full.  This will reduce the double handling we currently do, with the added health and safety risks associated with this extra handling.”

Xtreme Zero Waste has been collecting glass through kerbside collections, their Resource Recovery Centre, from local businesses, rural drop offs and events for the last 20 years. “Our volume of glass has more than tripled since we began,” Rick says.

Glass is the most sustainable packaging material in New Zealand, he says. “It is infinitely recyclable and is recycled right here in New Zealand. The average recycled glass content for new bottles and jars manufactured by O-I NZ 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 NZ, every 10% of recycled glass content reduces emissions by 5% and generates energy savings of approximately 3%. 

“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.