Making wheelie good use of solar power

The Whangaparaoa Community Recycling Centre has found a way to harness the power of the sun as it gears up for the busy festive season.

The recycling centre recently began using a solar-powered wheelie bin lifter for glass recycling after being granted $11,000 by the Glass Packaging Forum (GPF). The machine, which was custom made by Simpro Engineering, lifts bins filled with colour-sorted container glass and tips it into a storage container at the small site.

The glass can then be transported to New Zealand’s only glass manufacturers O-I New Zealand to be remade into new glass bottles and jars. The previous system saw workers manually pull the bins up a ramp and tip the glass out.

Sustainable North Trust trustee Betsy Kettle says the bin lifter is a great addition to the operation. “The workers love it because it eliminates the manual strain on their backs and frees up the space taken by the rusty old glass ramp.

“Having the extra space also means that the glass collection truck doesn’t have to shift the bins in the parking lot across the street, making the Whangaparaoa Road safer, too,” she says.

The recycling centre is once again expecting a busy festive season as the number of recycled glass bottles and jars increases over the summer. The new bin lifter gives them the capacity to deal with the extra load, Kettle says.

The site does not have a power supply, meaning it is essential the bin lifter be solar-powered. It also powers the center’s eftpos machine and can recharge the staff cell phones, she says.

The Sustainable North Trust and Community Business and Environment Centre (CBEC) jointly run the recycling centre under contract to Auckland Council. The recycling centre handles around seven tonnes of glass a month.

The GPF promotes the environmental benefits of glass packaging and manages the accredited GPF Product Stewardship Scheme. It allocated grants to fund infrastructure, research, events and public place recycling to increase the volume of recycled glass going back to the furnace at O-I, or for alternative uses for recycled glass.