New Zealand: waste glass mountains continue to grow

The Packaging Council of New Zealand is trying to tackle the the mountains of container glass waste piling up around the country.
John Webber, responsible for the packaging council“s relationships w…

The Packaging Council of New Zealand is trying to tackle the the mountains of container glass waste piling up around the country. John Webber, responsible for the packaging council“s relationships with government said there was too much glass for the country“s one bottle plant to consume and the situation was a lot more complicated than it appeared. He said researchers were searching “frantically” to find a use for the ever-growing mountains of glass. “To suggest that it cannot be used is wrong,” he said. “It“s serious, but the situation is not quite as black as it seems.” One possibility is to crush the bottles to make aggregate for building materials. Over half of the bottled products consumed in New Zealand are imported, so having re-usable bottles would not be the answer, Mr Webber said. In addition, because of the strong New Zealand dollar, it was cheaper for New Zealand-based bottlers to import new bottles than buy recycled New Zealand-made ones. “Bottle washing plants are horrendously expensive. In the past, the majority of products were made and bottled in New Zealand, but this is not the case now,” he said. Kate O“Neill, a spokesperson for Auckland-based Lion Breweries, said reusable bottles carried a hidden cost, as the bottles were heavier and required more fuel to transport. Also, bottle washing was expensive and the caustic soda used to clean the bottles was harmful to the environment, she said. Recyclers were hoping in vain for their stockpiles of glass to become a commodity, a Motueka-based community activist said. “The unfortunate reality is they are probably never going to get rid of their glass,” Community Action for People and Planet spokesman Duncan Eddy said. “New Zealanders have already exported 16,000 tonnes of glass to Australia this year. And that isn“t the good kind of export – we“re paying to get rid of it,” he said. His group is pushing for a return to refundable deposits on bottles.