Peter Ruddock, waste minimisation officer for Carterton and Masterton district councils, said the problem facing councils across the country has grown steadily worse since late last year when a voluntary glass importation levy was removed. Its removal came after several previous years of increasing national usage of glass containers for food and drink.
About 60 tonnes of green, brown and white glass are recycled each month from the Masterton and Carterton districts, he said, which is transported to Owens Illinois in Auckland, the only recycled glass smelter in New Zealand.
The firm have reached capacity and while they are still taking glass, the price paid for the resource has plummeted from $70 to $10 a tonne. The company transporting Wellington regional recycled glass, including Wairarapa material, has already exceeded a national quota limit for the work, he said.
Small glass crushers may also be used onsite as more glass could then be taken per load to Auckland, he said.
There has been discussion that crushed glass may be used as a base material in the new waste transfer station to be built at the Masterton landfill site, he said, which closes on October 1.
Parliamentary discussions have also been held of a waste levy being imposed, he said, that may cost from $10 up to $50 a tonne over a decade. The cost would be passed on to dump users at the gate, and to ratepayers through higher prices for the council rubbish bags.
Another option is for people to buy their food and drink where available in packaging that is not glass.
"I recently changed to buying my beer in cans, and the other good thing is that you can fit more of them into the recycling bin.
From October 1, there would be a cost of $100 a tonne to dump waste in Masterton, although dumping glass for recycling will be free.
"I am aware South Wairarapa are also having big problems. Various councils are opting for solutions such as stockpiling into glass mountains, subsidising transport to Auckland and in some cases even suspending the collection of glass for recycling," Mr Ruddock said.
"Here, both councils have been working with the recycling contractors to ensure that glass recycling continues in our area, and a transport subsidy is being paid. It would be a tragedy if we had to suspend recycling.
"Both councils are pressuring government and the Ministry for the Environment to come up with solutions."
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