GLASS: REUSE OR RECYCLE?

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GLASS: REUSE OR RECYCLE?
19th September, 2017

ABC TV’s recent Four Corners program ‘Trashed’ revealed that vast amounts of the glass collected for recycling in Australia is actually being stockpiled in warehouses or going into landfill.

It turns out there is no longer a market for used glass because it’s actually cheaper to import glass than to recycle it. In NSW we produce 460,000 tonnes of used glass annually. (Read the full story)

Lismore Council has developed an innovative solution for their area and several neighbouring shires: crushing glass and converting it into a sand-like construction material for use in road base, construction backfill and as bedding for water pipes. (Read the full story)

In the Blue Mountains our kerbside recycling (including glass) goes to Visy for processing. Visy are one of the major recycling re-processors and are used by many councils across NSW.

A Council spokesperson has advised the Co-op that, “Council’s contract with Visy stipulates that kerbside recycling materials must not be sent to landfill. Prompted by the ABC Four Corners program ‘Trashed’, Council has written to Visy seeking confirmation that they are complying with the terms and conditions of the contract, however we are yet to receive a reply.”

What can we do? While we can’t solve the systemic problem overnight, each of us can make a substantial difference by reusing as much of our glass as possible. Reuse is always a better option than recycling because it generally has low to zero environmental impact.

Reused glass jars and bottles are great for food storage. Glass is non-porous so it doesn’t absorb food, germs or smells, it can be washed at high temperatures and is long lasting.

Reused glass jars and bottles are great for storing food.

You may already have a large collection of jars and bottles that you reuse to store food and liquids bought from bulk containers at the Co-op. If you’re not doing it already, why not give it a try? It requires a little preplanning, but I love shopping with our own jars because they’re generally already weighed and labelled, and when I get home they can go straight onto the shelf! Of course, if taking your own jars is going to make your shopping too heavy to carry, you can always buy bulk products in reusable produce bags and fill up your reused glass jars when you get home.

You can also use glass jars to store food in the fridge or freezer – see Lindsay Miles’ plastic-free living blog Treading My Own Path for tips about storing food without plastic.

Donate label-free jars and bottles with lids in the basket on the left hand side under the sink in the main shop. Help yourself to a free, ready-to-reuse jar or bottle from the basket on the right.

If you have more jars and bottles than you can use for your own food storage, please donate some to the Co-op to be reused by others? We are always in need of clean, label-free jars. Once you’ve removed the labels, you can deposit your clean jars and bottles with lids in the basket under the sink on the left, in the main shop. We’ll run them through the dishwasher then put them into the basket on the right side – free to be taken and used by all.

Pickling, preserving and jam making are another good way to reuse your glass jars and make the most of in-season fruit and vegetables. If you haven’t caught the fermenting bug yourself, chances are someone you know has, and they’ll be on the lookout for glass jar donations. Asking around is also a great way to spread the word about reusing.

Beyond the pantry, glass jars and bottles are great for storing all kinds of things and for creative upcycling in and around your house and garden. A quick internet search reveals a myriad of ideas, including garden markers, terrariums, lanterns, bottle walls, soap dispensers and much more…

Prue Adams – Co-op Education and Member Liaison Co-ordinator

 

 

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