Upper Hutt glass recycling grows in leaps and bounds

Upper Hutt City Council’s Waste Minimisation Officer Millie Porter uses the newly upgraded public recycling centre.

Upper Hutt’s recycling drop-off centre has proven so popular since it was upgraded in April 2019 its glass recycling capacity has had to be doubled.

The Glass Packaging Forum, which helped fund the upgrade of the centre, again offered assistance in the form of a $10,000 grant to partially fund the purchase a new glass recycling container for the centre. The remainder of the $40,000 cost of the container was covered by Upper Hutt City Council.

Council’s Waste Minimisation Officer Millie Porter says since upgrading the centre in April, the volume of glass being recycled has exceeded their expectations.


“After the centre was established in 2016, demand from the public quickly outgrew capacity, and after upgrading the centre in April 2019, demand again outstripped capacity. Since installing the new container at the end of last year, we have seen an increase in glass recycling of over 160%,” she says.

The new container will not only mean more glass can be recycled but will improve transport efficiency and health and safety at the centre, Millie says. Over weekends the glass container overflowed, resulting in glass having to go to landfill, with the new container solving this problem, she says.

Upper Hutt has not had rates-funded kerbside recycling collections since 2013, although private contractor collections are available, she says. A recycling drop-off centre was therefore created in 2016.

Glass Packaging Forum Scheme Manager Dominic Salmon says the Forum is happy to help further expand recycling in Upper Hutt. “It’s good to see Upper Hutt City Council committing to the long-term operation of this facility. It’s obvious people are keen to recycle, so we are pleased to help them.”

The Forum has to date funded over $3.4 million in grants for projects ranging from infrastructure to public place recycling, events, and research, Dominic says. These projects are funded by 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.

Sending glass to landfill is huge waste of valuable resources as it can be infinitely recycled at the country’s only glass container manufacturer O-I New Zealand in Auckland, 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.