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Glass Packaging Forum tells Select Committee

Glass Packaging Forum tells Select Committee that it has raised over $2 million in the last two years through voluntary product stewardship – and legislation isn’t necessary

The Glass Packaging Forum which represents manufacturers, fillers and retailers of glass containers told the Select Committee hearing the Waste Minimisation (Solids) Bill last night that industry led product stewardship is best for the economy, best for society and best for the environment.

David Carter, Chair of the Glass Packaging Forum told MP’s that over $2 million had been raised initially to provide financial support to recycling operators and subsequently to identify, develop and promote alternative uses for recycled glass containers:

“Three years ago we signed a Packaging Accord with the Government recognizing our role as product stewards. We’re probably one of the few groups at this hearing which is not asking for money but giving it. Industry has the knowledge and expertise to resolve environmental issues relating to its products and will do it cost effectively. This is the approach we have taken to glass recycling – the answer is not to prop up inefficient collection but rather to find sustainable uses for glass reuse in addition to traditional glass making. There is a new generation of recyclers who are keen to work with us on this.”

‘We’re self policing – we know the players in the industry and we will be the first to address free riders but we would support a regulatory backstop for free riders.”

“We accept that a national waste levy, properly researched, managed and allocated could resolve some of the regional disparities in waste management. For industry the devil will be in the detail and industry must be part of the solution. There needs to be complete transparency about who is eligible to receive the levy and on what it will be spent.”

“We do not support deposit fees on packaging and do not support Container Deposit legislation (CDL). In the absence of a cost benefit analysis into the impacts of introducing CDL industry commissioned independent research. The Covec report concludes that a 10 cent per container returnable deposit would cost between NZ$61 million and NZ$121 million per annum over and above the existing costs for kerbside collection. This is two to three times as much as the existing kerbside collection and although an additional 89000 tonnes of packaging would be recovered, it would be at a cost of up to $1360 per tonne. The economics simply do not stack up.”

Mr Carter said that they had listened to the largely emotional rather than economic arguments in favour of container deposits and reviewed the recent report by Envision which concurs with the costs but differs as to where they will lie. However you look at it CDL will cost every shopper and rate payer more money. He added that:

“Our own work is continuing to be informed by a study now being undertaken by Covec in Australia which is leading them to believe that the $121 million is understated – which is an opinion shared by industry involved in the Australian scheme.”

“Moreover, we don’t have the economies of scale which larger countries have to process all the recovered glass which we currently recover – that was why we were established in the first place. And as a representative from the drinks industry, I’d like to reiterate that introducing CDL will not mean that beverage containers will be reused as drinks containers because of stringent food safety standards to prevent glass fragments in bottles and contamination from cleaning chemicals.”

Mr Carter outlined the progress which it has made in finding alternative solutions for recovered glass:

“We initiated an amended Transit road specification which now allows for up to 5% of glass cullet to be used in road asphalt. This is helping to provide a local answer for many communities who find that the cost of sending glass back to Auckland for processing is often too high. And to assess the economic viability of this, we have funded a cost benefit analysis - working with Palmerston North and Nelson - which identifies the best technical processes for crushing the glass and asks that the environmental benefits of sustainable aggregates be factored into the tendering process.”

“We’re now going further than funding research and development. Some smaller communities have told us they can’t afford to buy crushing equipment, so we are purchasing a mobile crusher which can be used around the country. We’re listening, we’re learning and we’re adapting.”

“The Glass Forum is a self funding organisation which is working with local councils, central government and recycling operators to deliver sustainable glass recycling programmes which balance environmental, social and economic interests. This is product stewardship in action at lowest cost and highest efficiency.”

The Glass Forum committed to sharing their continued research in this area with the Select Committee.



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