Sunday, February 11, 2018

Glass recycling in crisis

Two recent investigations by ABC journalists showed that the recycling industry in Australia is in crisis, with glass recycling being hit especially hard.
Currently in Australia, recycling companies collect, sort, and store waste. Much of it is then sold overseas for processing into reusable raw materials. However, on January 1 this year, China banned the importation of a range of recyclable rubbish, closing route for 600,000 tonnes of material exported by Australia each year. Australia's recycling industry is feeling the impact of that ban already, with recycled waste being stockpiled in warehouses.

China’s ban has hit Australia’s glass recycling industry especially hard, because the market for recycled glass is already undercut by cheap imported glass. Indeed, it is currently cheaper to import glass bottles than to recycle them. As a result, hundreds of thousands of tonnes of close to worthless used glass are being stockpiled and used as landfilled instead of being recycled.

Each year, Australia consumes about 1.36 million tonnes of glass, including bottles, jars and other containers.Industry leaders warn that they cannot keep collecting recycling if there's nowhere for it to go. In Victoria, recycling company Visy will stop collecting waste from 22 regional councils from February 9. However, many recycling companies are locked into contracts with local councils that last up to ten years.

NSW alone consumes about 460,000 tonnes of used glass per year and the NSW Environment Protection Agency (EPA) prohibits recycling companies from stockpiling large amounts of material. However, a confidential industry report provided to the NSW EPA in 2017 reported substantial stockpiling of used glass. The report also said that in many Australian states the market for used glass is depressed; and that in many rural areas, increasing freight costs mean that recycling glass is only marginally profitable.

Despite this crisis in glass recycling, cheap imports of ‘virgin’ materials are preferred to local reprocessed materials. For example, road base is constantly being made with newly mined sand, rather than with ‘sand’ using Australia's glut of recycled glass. Waste Management Association of Australia (WMAA) president Garth Lamb has said that Mr Lamb said, "A lot of the big state government road projects ... could suck up all the glass that's being stockpiled around Australia ...”

Nick Kilvert and Carl Smith “The demise of kerbside recycling? China ban disrupts rubbish removal and fills warehouses” ABC News

Caro Meldrum-Hanne “Recycling companies stockpiling thousands of tonnes of glass as cheap imports leave market in crisis” ABC News

Featured Festival of Glass sponsor: Rotary Club of Drysdale                                      
P.O. Box 123, Drysdale 3222, Victoria
Meets: Mondays at 6:30 PM at Clifton Springs Golf Club, 92-94 Clearwater Drive, Clifton Springs, Victoria 3222.

The Festival of Glass committee is very grateful to the Rotary Club of Drysdale for supporting the 2018 Festival of Glass. Rotary seeks sustainable improvements in local communities in over 200 countries; and the Rotary Club of Drysdale raises money to support a range of regional organisations. The Club promotes local artistic excellence through its annual Easter art show and has supported the Festival of Glass since its inception. The Club was a major sponsor of the Festival’s Welcome to Drysdale glass mural in central Drysdale; it is sponsoring the Award for Wearable Glass Art at this year’s Festival; and it is a sponsor of the Festival's Mentorship programme for local young aspiring glass artists.

Featured Festival of Glass sponsor: Stockdale & Leggo
Drysdale.                    2/11 Clifton Springs Rd (PO Box 732), Drysdale 3222
Tel. 5251 4888         
Portarlington.              92B Newcombe Street, Portarlington 3223
Tel. 5259 1315         

The Festival of Glass committee is very grateful to local real estate agents Stockdale and Leggo for supporting the Festival once again. In 2017, it participated in the Festival’s Treasure Hunt and this year it is sponsoring the Award for Sculptural Glass Art. The Stockdale & Leggo real estate franchise was established in 1936 and now has over 90 offices in city centres, metropolitan areas and regional districts across Australia. Group members – such as the local agents - specialise in buying, renting, leasing and managing residential, commercial and rural property; and they do so drawing on the group’s history, experience and constant search for innovation.

Stockdale & Leggo has its own finance arm - S&L Financial Logic – offering a range of financial services, including home loan finance (which compares over 20 leading banks and lenders and hundreds of home loan options), financial planning & investment, self-managed super funds and personal insurance.

Thanks to the City of Greater Geelong and the Bendigo Bank, our Awards sponsors, our Treasure Hunt sponsors and other local ‘in kind’ supporters.

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