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Auckland's glass mountain shows recycling working

Post Time:Apr 08,2009Classify:Industry NewsView:283

A 28,000 tonne glass mountain in Auckland is evidence municipal recycling is working and it is ridiculous to suggest the recession is killing it off, a leading processor says.

Onehunga’s mountain of glass has grown since Auckland and Manukau introduced 240 litre wheelie bins to take all recyclables.

They are processed at a new $22 million plant owned by multinational Visy who use optical sorting to pick out glass, paper and plastics.

Visy official Lee Smith said it was all getting used but the glass mountain grew because Aucklanders recycled much more glass than expected.

Visy plants in Australia routinely have around 30 percent glass content but in Auckland it is up to 45 percent.

Mr Smith said the heavier glass was making it harder to separate out the other recyclables so they have installed an extra machine to handle it.

The glass mountain was made up of inert material that was doing no damage to the environment.

"Aucklanders are putting all of their glass in the recycling bin rather than in the rubbish bin," he said.

He doubted the extra glass had anything to do with wine consumption in Auckland, but rather that more products in New Zealand were sold in glass than in plastic.

Mr Smith said it was "ridiculous" to suggest that the recession would kill recycling. A global market continued to function for all recyclable material.

"Absolutely there is a market, we are not stockpiling anything," Mr Smith said.

Prices were lower but material was still moving.

If places like Wellington and Christchurch believed they had problems with moving material, then Visy would take it and process it.

"We need to focus on value rather than cost of recycling," he said, saying New Zealanders were the world´s best recyclers.

"The value that this provides to the community is enormous."

He dismissed the idea that New Zealand recyclables should not be sent to China or other parts of Asia. "It´s a world commodity market, prices are set globally."

Visy did not deal with brokers but directly with end users, ensuring the material was properly used.

"The idea that New Zealand should just deal with its own recyclables is a bit hard to take given how much packaging comes into the country in the first place."

Source: stuff.co.nzAuthor: shangyi

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