No quick fix for glass recycling

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High hopes: A bottle bin at Five Mile, Frankton

Queenstown’s glass is still being sent to the landfill – six months after Mountain Scene revealed it’s not recycled.

And it’s likely to be another year before any change is made.

Queenstown councillor Alexa Forbes, who’s been made infrastructure committee boss, says a return to recycling is a priority but can only be addressed as part of a larger waste minimisation strategy.

‘It’s very frustrating but, that said, nothing is simple,” Forbes says.

“It’s all part of a whole pile of systems – systems of collection, sorting, transport – they all need to fit together.

“It’s not like we can just make new bottles out of old ones here, then reuse them.”

Forbes, who has a background in sustainability, says it’s a complex jigsaw puzzle.

“And yes it is enough to drive me insane but it is something that we’re working through.”

The strategy needs to go out to public consultation and should be adopted by December next year, she says.

Mountain Scene revealed in May all of Queenstown’s glass has been sent directly to landfill since March – despite residents and businesses separating it into recycling bins.

That’s because the glass is too dirty to be used crushed for roading aggregate by Fulton Hogan.

And it needs to be colour-separated to be an economically viable recycling prospect.

Collection contracts are up for renewal in 2018.

Forbes: “It’s not good at the moment. We haven’t got a quick solution just now but we’re working on a good long-term solution.”

The overall waste strategy will cover domestic waste and recycling, including glass, as well as sludge, green waste, organic waste, the “huge amounts” of construction waste and other waste streams.

“We really need to think of our landfill [Victoria Flats, Gibbston] as a resource – once it’s full the chances of getting another space are low.”

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

About 2500 tonnes are collected in the district each year, including residential and commercial recycling.

Forbes says kerbside separation, like Wanaka, is one option being considered in a strategy the council’s still cobbling together.

She urges residents to keep separating their glass.

Council property and infrastructure boss Peter Hansby says it’s still working through potential options.

paul.taylor@scene.co.nz