Tokoroa glass recycling made simpler, safer thanks to funding boost

The new bunkers have improved the quality of the glass by reducing the levels of contamination through accidental mixing of the colours.

Glass recycling at the Croad Place Recycling Centre in Tokoroa has been made simpler, quicker and safer thanks to a $25,000 grant from the Glass Packaging Forum.

The recycling centre is run by the South Waikato Achievement Trust and employs 16 staff including disadvantaged and marginalised people from the region. The Trusts CEO, Russell Ensor says the grant enabled the construction of four concrete bunkers for storing glass bottles and jars before they are sent for recycling in Auckland.

“The bunkers have greatly improved safety and has significantly improved the efficiency of the handling by reducing the number of steps involved in collecting, storing and transporting the glass.”

Previously the centre had used bins to transfer the glass to a sorting area, and then stored it in bags before being loaded for transport. The bunkers have reduced the process from five to just three steps, Russel says.

The collected glass is sorted into three colours – green, brown and clear – with the new bunkers improving the quality of the glass by reducing the levels of contamination through accidental mixing of the colours, he says.

The fourth bunker is used for mixed glass from commercial premises and parks.

Glass Packaging Forum Scheme Manager Dominic Salmon says funding infrastructure which improves the quality of glass available for recycling as well as health and safety is a priority for the Forum. “We’re really pleased to work with an organisation like the South Waikato Achievement Trust, with its focus on positive social and environmental outcomes.

The Forum has to date funded over $3.4 million in grants for projects ranging from infrastructure to public place recycling, events, and research. This funding is sourced through the Forum’s Government-accredited product stewardship scheme, which has over 100 member brands that pay a voluntary levy based on the amount of glass they put to market.

Glass is recycled at the country’s only glass container manufacturer O-I New Zealand.

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.