Glass great material for capping project, but could be put to better use in future

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Published: 09 Jan 2020

Timaru District Council has put its glass to good use improving the site of a closed landfill, but is looking at new ways of better utilising the resource.

Approximately 9,000 tonnes of mixed glass, equivalent to about 9 years’ worth of yellow bin deposits, has been crushed and used as aggregate while contouring and capping the old landfill area at Redruth.

While this is a way of putting the resource to good use, Council Waste Minimisation Manager, Ruth Clarke, says that they are looking at ways of maximising the value of the glass the council collects.

“For the past few years we’ve had to stockpile glass bottles on site, due to logistical difficulties, limited market opportunities, and limitations in the current recycling system.

“The capping of an old area of landfill has provided an opportunity to use the glass effectively as aggregate, replacing material that would otherwise have had to be quarried and purchased.

“Although this is better than wasting the material, the use of glass aggregate is a low-end use of the material and does not fit into a circular economy framework.

“Looking ahead, we need to work on taking advantage of the opportunities to commercially recycle glass, and take advantage of glass’ infinite recyclability and reusability.

As part of the new waste minimisation contract in 2021, the council be working to see how it, its contractors and the community can all play their part in improving how this resource is used.

“If handled properly in production, use and disposal, glass can be made in a closed-loop cycle, meaning the end-of-life material from glass can be used to remake the exact same product - over and over again,” said Ruth.

“For example, a brown beer bottle filled locally can be sent back to the manufacturer and turned back into another brown beer bottle.

“Using recycled glass in the manufacturing process also requires fewer raw materials and less energy, both of which result in lower carbon emissions.

“Maximising the amount of recycled glass will help reduce our environmental impact and support the growth of a circular economy.”

People can find out more about waste reduction and the circular economy, and how individuals and businesses can play their part in it, at oneplanet.org.nz

Last updated: 23 Jun 2020