Queenstown’s glass landfilled until July 2019

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Glass from Queenstown homes will continue going to landfill for the next 16 months at least.

Mountain Scene reported in May 2016 that resort glass – even glass diligently placed in blue recycling bins – was being dumped at Victoria Flats landfill in Gibbston.

Now Queenstown Lakes District Council infrastructure boss Peter Hansby, two years on, says little can be done until new contracts commence with waste firms in July 2019.

Some 2500 tonnes of glass from Queenstown is landfilled each year, although that figure includes commercial waste from businesses collected privately.

A draft waste minimisation and management plan (WMMP) for the next six years is due to go before the council at its next full meeting on March 23.

It will then go out to public consultation.

Hansby says: “People in the Wakatipu have made it very clear that they expect to be able to fully recycle glass, and this is something we are working towards with the WMMP as a starting point.

“… it is most certainly on the cards and is a priority for council.”

The preferred option is an increased focus on recycling and a focus on organics. Council has trialled a huge ‘vermicomposting’ worm farm at Gibbston over the past year.

The issue so far with glass is that colours are mixed together in the blue bins and also mixed with other recyclables.

“This glass is separated out at the Wakatipu Recycling Centre, but as it is contaminated by other recyclables and not colour-sorted, it is of low value and unable to be sold.”

Mixed recycling is collected by All Waste Queenstown. Smart Environmental runs the Wakatipu Recycling Centre.

Council contracts cover residential waste and public bins. Some were due to end last year but were extended to create one end-date for all, allowing council to thrash out a better overall system.

Glass is an inert material, so has been used as a ‘face stabiliser’ at the landfill.

Before March 2016, it was being crushed and used as roading aggregate. Wanaka, in contrast, has kerbside separation.

However, Queenstown residents keen to see their glass recycled back to glass bottles do have an option.

The council’s received a $10,000 grant from the Glass Packaging Forum for four colour-sorted public bottle banks. There are now banks at Five Mile, Arthurs Point, Gibbston, Arrowtown and Wakatipu Recycling Centre, Glenda Drive.

The glass is sent to Christchurch’s 5R Solutions hub then freighted to NZ’s only glass bottle and jar manufacturer O-I New Zealand in Auckland.

paul.taylor@scene.co.nz