Glass Recycling – NSW Return and Earn

Communities throughout NSW including Schools, Sporting Clubs, Local Councils and other local communities are contributing to the recycling of glass as part of the NSW Return and Earn program.

Why should we recycle glass?

Glass recycling decreases the demand for raw materials, therefore reduces the impact on the environment. By reusing glass for products such as coloured glass bottles less energy is used, which lowers emissions and the amount of glass products that end up in landfill.

How does Return and Earn work?

Thousands of people are collecting and processing used bottles at hundreds of dedicated return points around the state. Each bottle represents a 10 cent refund, which provides an incentive to be involved in the program.

Where to recycle glass in NSW?

Find your nearest return point here.

NSW Return and Earn Collection Points

Where to recycle glass in Sydney?

Sydney Return and Earn Collection Points

Who is recycling glass in the community?

Stories about the success of the program can be found at the following page. Return and Earn News

Australian States offering a recycle refund program

Not all Australian States are offering a recycling refund program.

The following graphic outlines the current status.

How much glass do we recycle?

The most recent National Waste Report published by the Australian Government website outlines trends in waste managment.Link

In 2016-2017, 57% of glass was recycled. Glass used for bottles and containers lost market share to plastic over the previous ten years. The report highlights the fact that recycling plants find it difficult to recover mixed waste. Broken glass combined with paper and cardboard proving to be a problem at smaller plants. No doubt the Return and Earn system will improve recycling efforts.

Although plastic represents over twice as much waste as glass only 12% of plastic was recycled in the same period.

What is recycled glass used for?

The manufacture of glass bottles is the most common uses of recycled glass.

Crushed glass is being used in construction for the following applications.

  • Sand replacement for use in asphalt
  • Backfill for trenches and pipes
  • Road base
  • Foundations

The market for these products are under-developed but are areas of opportunity for the future.

Recycling problems in Australia

Import restrictions imposed by China

A majority of recycled waste has been sold to China in the past however a reduction in the contamination threshold percentage to only .05% has had a huge impact on the local recycling industry in Australia.

Dangerous Stockpiles

Some recycling facilities around the country are currently stockpiling recycled waste as a result of the Chinese restrictions.

Recently Victorian company SKM ordered to pay $1.2M for stockpile fire. ABC Story

Future Solutions For Recycling

Ultimately the solution to the problem is change.

  • Improve the quality of recycled waste to continue exporting.
  • Move away from a export focused waste industry and process much of our waste in Australia. This would produce higher quality recycled waste which can be sold easier to overseas markets.
  • Develop our own “reuse cycle” for recycled products. Currently we have a “take, use and dispose” system in Australia. If we could “make, take, use and remake” locally, we could circulate paper and plastic products to improve their recycled life.