Glass price cuts into recycling

Stockpiles of glass are piling up around the country after the only glass reprocessor slashed its price for used glass.

ACI in Auckland has cut what it pays for used glass by 87%, meaning many councils and recycling companies cannot afford to sell what they have collected.Glass payouts are being slashed from $75 a tonne to just $10, so recyclers are having to stockpile what they collect until a solution is found.Lindsay Bell of Nelmac Ltd says the price drop means it is now uneconomical to recycle glass."With that kind of drop it's not even covering our shipping costs let alone any other costs that we have involved in the collection and processing of the glass," says Bell.

ACI glass packaging are not explaining the price cut, but recycling companies speculate it's because it is cheaper to import glass products than make them.

Mike Mendonca from Wellington City Council says they are trying to be self sufficient.

"We're looking at some of those things now such as putting glass into roads, glass as drainage fill - that kind of stuff. Ideally it will be a local solution and it will be cheap and will make it worthwhile to recycle still," says Mendonca.

Christchurch already produces a number of products with its recycled glass.

"We're also looking at high value products as well things like making them into glass tiles. We're now at the stage at looking at the processing technology to turn it into a viable business," says Richard Lloyd of the Recovered Material Foundation.

The Environment Ministry, local bodies and recycling companies around New Zealand are now trying to find a solution to the not-so-clear-cut problem.

Warren Snow of Envision New Zealand thinks the consumer and producer of the glass should cover the cost of recycling.

"You need an option which ensures that the producer and consumer pay the cost of recycling, and the container deposit or drink deposit is the best way to do it," says Snow.

The packaging accord hopes to release a decision by the end of the month.

600450 Glass price cuts into recycling
Date: 28 April 2005

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