Glass farce: It’s going to landfill


All of Queenstown’s glass ‘recycling’ is being sent to the landfill.

Queenstown’s council confirms glass hasn’t been recycled by Fulton Hogan since March.

That means every bottle, pot, jar and container of glass diligently placed in recycling bins outside homes, businesses and in the CBD is being buried at the Victoria Flats tip.

Environmental campaigner Rob Dickinson, of Queenstown Anti-Plastic Population and Sea Shepherd, says: “It’s a huge disappointment.

“I’ve been telling everyone ‘why aren’t we using glass’ [instead of plastic], so for it to just go in landfill is a disgrace really.

“Surely the council should be telling us about this, then we can do something as well.”

Council infrastructure boss Peter Hansby says the burying of glass will continue until new markets can be sourced or new processes put in place. 

Mixed ‘recycling’ is collected by AllWaste and separated at the Wakatipu Recycling Centre in Frankton by Smart Environmental.

Fulton Hogan was contracted to take clean glass to its Parkburn quarry in Cromwell, where it was crushed and ‘reused’ in roading aggregate. But that arrangement ended in March.

Hansby: “This is due to there not being a local market for glass with high levels of contamination.”

Even before March, on average about a quarter of the glass placed in blue bins was sent to landfill because it was contaminated by other waste.

Glass makes up about 40 per cent of all the ‘recycling’ in Queenstown.

The council confirms about 2500 tonnes of glass are collected in the district each year, including residential and commercial recycling.

Queenstown’s deputy mayor Lyal Cocks, responsible for oversight of waste management, says kerbside colour-separation of glass, as in Wanaka, could be the future.

“People don’t want to buy glass when there’s a whole mixture of colours, some colours are more attractive [economically] than others. So we sort it at the kerbside in Wanaka, we’ve got a different contract here.”

Recycle collection and processing contracts expire in 2018.

Cocks, who’s standing for the mayoralty, says Queenstown people should continue to place glass in recycling bins because it’s “good cultural practice”.

“And this is a temporary thing, it won’t go on forever. But until those contracts are renewed, and we can look at cleverer ways of collecting and sorting the glass, that’s the way it is.”

He’s waiting on a report from council staff about alternative markets and sorting practices.

Fulton Hogan’s comms boss Abby Shaw says the company doesn’t have a formal contract with the council for management of its glass recycling.

She says “clean glass” is crushed and recycled at their facilities, with the end product being used in roading products.

But she didn’t comment specifically on the market for mixed crushed glass.

Smart Environmental, which runs the recycling plant, referred Mountain Scene to the council.

AllWaste boss Peter Carnahan could not be contacted because he is overseas until next month.