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November 10, 2009

Inside Waste Weekly

WA glass to be reprocessed in Perth

Colmax Glass will build and run a $5.4 million glass reprocessing plant that will be operating in Perth by mid-2010, ending the need for WA glass to be landfilled or transported to South Australia for recycling. The facility will be co-funded to the tune of $3.9 million by the State Government through the WA Waste Authority and by industry through the National Packaging Covenant.

According to Environment Minister Donna Faragher, “approximately 80,000 tonnes of glass packaging is distributed throughout WA each year as packaging for food and beverage products”.

WA currently has no glass reprocessing facilities and, although residents conscientiously place their glass out for collection with their other recyclables, only about 15-20% of the state’s glass waste is deemed high enough quality to send to SA to be recycled. The rest went to landfill, a costly exercise in terms of economics and the waste of resources.

In 2005 then Environment Minister, Judy Edwards, floated the idea of introducing SA-style container deposit legislation to try and increase recovery rates. That sparked the current flurry of activity around potential introduction of a national CDL system, and saw the packaging industry scramble to put forward a viable alternative.

Covenant CEO Ed Cordner said the $3.9 million earmarked for the Colmax plant is the largest single investment the NPC has made in any of its more than 70 projects in Australia. The plant will initially process about 20,000 tonnes of waste glass per year, building up to 40,000 tonnes as demand increases.

“We are very pleased to help make this new plant happen, which will not only open up new Asian export markets but redefine local markets, lessening WA’s reliance on either trucking used glass to Adelaide or sending it to landfill. A win for the environment, for business and for new local and export markets,” he said.

Sydney-based Colmax Glass will kick in the remaining $1.5 million to get the plant up and running. It was chosen to receive the generous funding out of a field of competing applicants because of several perceived advantages, including:

1/. It accepts all of the glass collected in the recycling process, regardless of whether it is of high quality or low quality fines.

2/. It can transform even the lowest quality glass into high-value glass sand pure enough to go straight into bottles and insulation batts, or be used in applications as diverse as road markings or swimming pool surfacing, blasting abrasives, water filtration and cement extender.

3/. It has developed a diverse range of markets for its products.

The CEO of Colmax Glass, Peter Harkins, said the proposed plant will revitalise WA’s glass reprocessing landscape.

“The problem in WA has not been getting people to recycle their glass, they are already doing that, and rates just get better every year,” said Harkins. “It has been that there was nothing to do with the glass once it was collected.”

“There has been no processing facility and only a small fraction of the glass was clean enough to send to South Australia for recycling, so the rest was going straight to landfill.

“Glass recycling rates looked terrible even though people were doing the right thing and recycling. We’re going to change that by recycling all of the glass people put in their recycling bins, which is how it should be!”

“Our goal is to be able to process virtually all of the glass collected in WA and aim to help WA go from having the worst glass recycling rates in the country to the best.”


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