EnviroWay's new recycling truck in action
On top of that, the new glass recycling process means we actually make money from the city's used glass.
In the past, glass was dumped into the truck with other recycling and was then sorted by hand at a processing centre. The Council's CitiOperations Manager, Mike Mendonca, says it was handled several times through the recycling process, increasing the potential for cuts from broken glass.
"It also required a lot of time and energy to reprocess the material into a useful resource."
The new trucks allow recyclable glass, known as 'cullet', to be colour sorted at the kerbside into three pods - clear, green and brown. The collectors sort glass at waist height into one of the new pod loaders, which when full are lifted hydraulically into the main pods. These are lined with timber and designed to cushion the glass as it lands, resulting in less breakage and noise.
"The key to reducing injuries is that the collector is the only person who physically handles the glass in the whole process," he says.
Introducing this new technology means we can now provide colour-sorted 'cullet' to the market and support reprocessing of glass in New Zealand, rather than sending lower-value, colour-contaminated glass abroad or for use in road works.
Our empty wine bottles and other glass are now being used to make new wine, beer or water bottles for reuse in New Zealand.
The upshot is that our recycled glass is no longer a cost burden but a valued resource that creates a revenue stream in this country and jobs for New Zealanders. It also means our plastics, metals and papers are worth more, as they are not contaminated with abrasive glass fragments.
It was costing us about $50,000 a month to process the city's recyclables.
The new recycling system and trucks mean we are now making just under $100,000 a month in sales, which is a big turn around. If current trends continue, the city will make more than a $1 million a year from selling recyclables, funding about one-quarter of the cost of the collection service.
Wellington City Council and Dunedin City Council are the first to use the new technology.
Three Waters and Waste portfolio leader Councillor Ngaire Best applauds this new initiative.
"We're pioneering a new pathway - looking at the ultimate impact on the environment and our economy - and consider ourselves the test bed for other councils," she says.