South Island glass recycling on the up

Well over 23,000 tonnes of glass from the South Island was recycled in Auckland in 2018, up over 10,000 from 2016.

Media release:

Glass recycling in the South Island has seen major improvements recently with over $174,000 in grants being invested by the Glass Packaging Forum (GPF) over the past two years.

These grants have been an important factor in helping 23,836 tonnes of glass from the South Island make its way to Auckland for recycling in 2018. This is up 10,399 tonnes from 2016, says GPF scheme manager Dominic Salmon.

“One of the primary aims of the GPF is to use the levies from our members to aid in the recovery of glass bottles and jars so they can be recycled. The South Island faces unique challenges in terms of collecting and transporting recycled glass, but we have seen investment in key projects make a big impact.”

These have ranged from an innovative, Kiwi-designed piece of machinery at 5R Solutions in Christchurch to bottle banks in Queenstown, significantly increased storage capacity in Westland, Alexandra, Kaikoura, Tasman and Wanaka, and the expansion of rural recycling in Marlborough.

Dominic says it’s great to see work being done by councils, such as Queenstown Lakes District Council which is implementing a new kerbside glass collection service from July 1 in Queenstown and Wanaka. As a result, nearly 2000 tonnes of glass is expected to be diverted from landfill.

The GPF also works with councils and local recyclers to help improve recycling systems and efficiency. “Establishing hubs where glass can be aggregated is the best way to make transport viable. 5R Solutions in Christchurch, which benefited from multiple GPF grants, is a good example of that, and we are looking at option for establishing a hub in the lower South Island too,” Dominic says.

“Increasing storage capacity is also critical to a viable and efficient collection and recycling model,” says Dominic. “It means fewer freight movements and more cost-effective transport which is why the GPF has provided investment for this in Westland, Tasman, Alexandra, Kaikoura and Wanaka.”

Glass is the most sustainable packaging material in New Zealand, he says. “It is infinitely recyclable and is recycled right here in New Zealand, at glass bottle and jar manufacturer O-I New Zealand in Auckland. The average recycled glass content for O-I New Zealand 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, 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.