The path for improved kerbside glass recycling is clear

MEDIA RELEASE: The Glass Packaging Forum’s long-standing advocacy for separate kerbside glass collections has been backed by a recent report from WasteMINZ.

The Recommendations for standardisation of kerbside collections in Aotearoa report, prepared for the Ministry for the Environment and published this month, recommends local authorities are incentivised to collect glass bottles and jars separately to other recyclable materials.

GPF Scheme Manager Dominic Salmon says the report supports the work the scheme has been doing with councils to advocate for separate glass collections. “This best practice for glass collections not only improves the quality and quantity of glass which can be recycled, it improves the quality of all materials in kerbside recycling because it prevents contamination. It’s a win all round.”

Statistics from the country’s only glass recycling plant show separating glass from other recyclables has resulted a marked increase in the amount of glass being collected. These ranged from 34% up to 62%, Dominic says.

“Tauranga City Council is a recent example. When it implemented a separate glass collection service in October 2018 the recycling rate for glass doubled in a year.” The GPF helped fund bins for the new service – the biggest grant allocated to date.

Dominic noted while there had been a number of councils which have recently moved to separate glass collections the majority of the population doesn’t have access. “Our two biggest cities Auckland and Christchurch still use a co-mingled wheelie bin system, which results in a high loss of recyclable material.”

The WasteMINZ report shows 11 local authorities (16%) have comingled recycling wheelie bin collections that include glass but represent 47% of the population. In contrast, 44 local authorities (66%) have a separate glass collection or a kerbside glass sort and represent 43% of the population.

Dominic also points out that separate glass collections are half of the solution. “It’s vital there is infrastructure to store colour-separated glass which allows for efficient transport to the furnace to be recycled in Auckland. The GPF has been very active in funding  projects which allows councils and processors to do this,” he says.

The GPF has to date funded over $3.6 million in grants to improve glass recycling, of which over $1.4 million has been for infrastructure projects.