Grant keeps Far North glass recycling on the up and up

A truck offloads glass into one of the newly built storage bunkers built at the Kerikeri RE: Sort Resource Recovery Park.

New Zealand’s newest resource recovery park is ramping up efforts to improve sustainability in the Far North, with help from the Glass Packaging Forum.

The Kerikeri Re:Sort Resource Recovery Park, which opened at the end of 2018, has already proven so popular it has had to increase its container glass recycling storage. Northland Waste Manager Andrew Sclater says the volume of glass being recycled increased significantly in the months following the opening, prompting the need to upgrade.

Northland Waste built and operates the park.

A grant of just over $23,000 from the Forum has enabled the company to replace the portable skip bins initially used for glass storage, with dedicated concrete bunkers, Andrew says. This has increased storage from approximately 5.5 tonnes to 49 tonnes, meaning not only can more glass can be recycled, but transport is more efficient too, he says.

Recycled glass in New Zealand is sent to the country’s only glass bottle and jar manufacturer O-I NZ in Auckland.

Glass Packaging Forum Scheme Manager Dominic Salmon says funds for grants allocated by the Forum come from levies paid by around 100 voluntary member brands, who operate New Zealand’s only product stewardship programme for container glass. To date the Forum has funded more than $3.4 million in grants.

“Re:Sort was designed around recovery and diverting waste away from landfill,” Andrew says. It also means residents of the district’s largest town no longer need to compete the 50-minute round trip to the rural facility in Whitehills, he says.

Re:Sort has proven so popular that the volume of glass being recycled more than doubled in the months following the opening. “This in turn has diverted more glass away from landfill.”

Glass going to landfill is huge waste of valuable resources as it can be infinitely recycled in New Zealand, Dominic says. It’s also one of the most sustainable packaging materials.

Using recycled glass to make new glass bottles and jars 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.