Recycling glass burns fossil fuels. Are refills greener?

Fossil gasoline powers the big furnaces in Auckland that soften used glass containers and switch them to new furnaces.

As well as, the chemical response to type the glass releases extra carbon dioxide, which covers the environment.

To keep away from these emissions, a gaggle of sustainable firms need the federal government to introduce a container reuse system, the place bottles and jars are washed and refilled.

Learn extra:
* The recycled content material of Mido’s recent milk bottles is an “vital” step for the nation
* Extra work is required to sort out the ‘make waste’ tradition
* Powerful to recycle however inexperienced: milk cartons are essentially the most climate-friendly packaging

On the South Island, glass containers are ‘recycled’ in street supplies. Crushed glass can exchange the required mixture and sand for asphalt.

Glass containers in North Island recycling bins are despatched to Auckland. Australian recycling firm Visy operates a glass-making plant in Penrose, the biggest within the nation.

To create recycled glass, kilns should attain About 1500°C – In Auckland, it’s fueled by fossil gasoline. Some extra tools is electrical.

This combustion creates the majority of the Auckland plant’s carbon footprint. However there’s one other supply: chemical reactions within the furnace itself.

Used glass is mixed with chemical compounds Together with soda ash, limestone and dolomite. Every of those substances incorporates some saved carbon dioxide.

This greenhouse gasoline is launched throughout the response, enters the environment and causes its temperature to rise. From this course of alone, Auckland Glass Manufacturing facility produced 11,700 tons of CO2 in 2020 – equal to greater than 1,650 return flights to London.

Glass factories can cut back these emissions by utilizing the next proportion of used glass. This additionally permits the oven to function at low temperaturesaving gasoline.

In 2019, the Auckland manufacturing unit produced 10 million bottles of 90% of recycled supplies. However day-to-day, Physi Targets For 70% recycled content material. The recycled quota could also be restricted by the provision of used glass or the standard necessities of shoppers.

By choosing amber glass, companies can usually increase the share of recycled content in the bottle.


By selecting amber glass, firms can normally improve the share of recycled content material within the bottle.

Amber or inexperienced glass principally They comprise the next proportion of recycled content material than clear containers.

The glass-making course of additionally creates Poisonous air pollution that may contribute to Bronchial asthma and bronchitis. Air high quality methods can take away a few of these pollution from the air earlier than they depart the chimneys. These emissions considerably decreased Within the final years.

Visy’s head workplace in Australia was contacted a number of instances, and requested about any plans to switch fossil fuels or cut back operations emissions. The press workplace didn’t reply.

Low Emission Bottles

Final month, a French glassmaker made the world’s first manufacturing unit Carbon free recycled glass: Utilizing 100% used glass – and subsequently no carbon-releasing compounds – with biogas furnaces. However the modified oven he ran For one week solely.

Any such glass can rely on the corporate and client acceptance: Bottles with larger recycled content material could personal Slight tint.

Right here, the federal government plans to pay folks to return beverage containers manufactured from glass, plastic and aluminum. Anticipated to start out in 2025, you may obtain about 20 cents per container of money to drop right into a devoted machine.

Annually, kiwis buy 2.3 billion single-use beverage containers. The federal government hopes that the cashback system will obtain a lot larger assortment charges. However as at present proposed, the containers shall be despatched for recycling – glass (and aluminum) to an emissions-intensive furnace.

Sustainable enterprise leaders are calling on the federal government to construct a reuse choice into this technique. Normal glass and plastic bottles and jars might be transformed into washing, label removing and sterilization amenities. Meals firms can then buy the reusable containers.

They are saying the system might be a low-carbon showcase: utilizing zero-emission vehicles, solar energy, and wastewater restoration.

At the moment, the ABC Swappa Crate Beer System is the biggest reusable container scheme within the nation, with 30 million bottles.

Florence Van Dyck, co-founder of the beverage firm Chia Sisters, has written an open letter to the federal government, calling for a reuse choice for the broader beverage business.

She added that selling recycling is essential. However in a round financial system, reuse should be the precedence. “The proposed re-container scheme presents an actual alternative, as a result of no small enterprise can do it alone.”

The letter was signed by a lot of different meals firms — similar to Repair & Fogg, Phoenix Natural, Six Barrel Soda and Wai Manuka — and local weather specialists, together with Local weather Change Commissioner James Renwick.

Van Dyck stated inflexible plastic packaging might be washed and reused 10 to twenty instances, and glass as much as 50 instances. “It’s going to have lots of different local weather and environmental advantages.”

Refilled bottles can look drab, in comparison with their single-use counterparts. Van Dyck stated this alerts to consumers that the corporate prioritizes the planet over aesthetics. “Customers, and particularly our tribe, perceive and count on that reused objects aren’t 100% good.”

Transportation prices could also be larger. The used glass despatched to the furnace might be transported within the type of shards. Reusable bottles take up more room, and require extra vehicles.

Van Dyck stated shoppers – via taxes and costs – pay for recycling, landfills, and related emissions, moderately than firms selecting packaging. “Once we take up all of these prices, it is less expensive to reuse them.”

She hoped that the reuse system would scale back waste shipped to growing nations. That is offered as recycling, however I discovered the reviews Heaps are thrown or burned illegally. “It’s not proper to depend on different nations to cope with our waste.”


New Zealand’s recycling practices are underneath scrutiny amid revelations that a whole bunch of tons of plastic are nonetheless being despatched to nations similar to Malaysia and Thailand.

Recycle vs Reuse

Life cycle research – which add up all emissions sources over the lifetime of a product – discover that reusing glass is healthier than recycling glass.

Barbara Nebel, CEO of Thinkstep-ANZ, a life-cycle consultancy, stated reusable bottles are normally a bit heavier than the single-use choices. That weight, she added, may imply extra fossil fuels are burned whereas the product is being transported.

However even taking into consideration the additional weight, reusable bottles are produced A lot decrease emissionsOne examine discovered – offered every was used as much as 6 instances and had a small breakout or loss.

in accordance with a report Primarily based on 32 life cycle analyzes, a reused glass container ends in lower than one-sixth of the carbon emissions of a recycled container.

The report acknowledged that if the containers have traveled lower than 100 kilometres, recycled glass is the choice with the bottom emissions.

Prior to now, drinks – similar to beer and gentle drinks – have been principally made or bottled native factories. Beneath these laws, refillable glass containers make financial and environmental sense. However manufacturing was simplified, many kiwi drink firms produced merchandise for the entire nation from one plant.

For firms utilizing glass containers, the packaging is in all probability It’s carried out in Auckland close to the glass facility.

When drinks journey greater than 100 kilometers from the manufacturing unit to clients, single-use cartons – that are principally manufactured from carbon-absorbent paper, weigh much less and It may possibly now be reworked In constructing supplies – she The greenest alternative.

Nibel Firm additionally discovered Cardboard and recycled PET are good low-carbon packaging choices. “It is all in regards to the weight…the burden is essential.”

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