SHETLAND’s only dedicated glass recycling plant says its huge backlog of bottles will now be processed after issues with machinery and equipment were resolved.
However, uncertainty remains over the longevity of the award-winning Enviroglass project after Shetland Islands Council revealed it is cheaper – and potentially better for the environment – to ship glass to the Scottish mainland for processing.
Since June, the council has had to send glass south after Cunningsburgh-based Enviroglass requested that it no longer receive any more materials.
Shetland Amenity Trust general manager Jimmy Moncrieff said the council had reduced the fee it pays Enviroglass for processing the glass from £37,000 a few years ago to £15,000 since 2012.
“We are not taking in any new glass unless the council reconsiders the amount they pay us,” he said.
Concerns have been raised locally over a “mountain” of bottles which has materialised in public view at the amenity trust-owned recycling project over the last number of months.
Enviroglass manager Sita Goudie confirmed that the backlog of glass would now be dealt with after problems with machinery caused delays with processing.
“Enviroglass is open,” she said. “There was a period of inactivity due to vehicle and equipment failure which has now been resolved. The glass bottles on site can now be processed.”
Moncrieff added that Enviroglass had enough glass for the next three years, time that would be used to re-negotiate terms with the local authority.
The company, which has been running in its current form for over ten years, has won national awards for recycling and innovation.
Last year, over 440 tonnes of glass was collected in Shetland from its bottle banks, which are spread across the isles in around 50 locations.
Over the past few months, Shetland Islands Council has stored glass in Lerwick before shipping it to the Scottish mainland.
A spokesman for its waste management department said this method is actually “as good as an environmental outcome, if not better” than transporting glass to Cunningsburgh for processing locally.
This is because the bottles are being recycled to make more bottles – a process which apparently uses less energy than reusing glass to make items like paving and shotblast, which Enviroglass does.
It is also cheaper for the council to ship the glass south, partly through the local authority receiving money for providing the materials to the processing plant. Previously, the SIC had to pay a “gate fee” to Enviroglass.
“In June, Shetland Amenity Trust informed Shetland Islands Council that Enviroglass would not be taking any more glass,” the SIC spokesman said.
“There is an income for the SIC after shipping, so the costs balance out. It’s as good as an environmental outcome, if not better, because it’s bottle to bottle – there’s less energy used in that process.”
Meanwhile, the future of recycling in Shetland is set to be explored in greater detail after the SIC’s environment and transport committee voted last Monday to adopt the Scottish Government and COSLA’s charter on household recycling.
The council will now work with Zero Waste Scotland on how to best maximise recycling options in the isles and determine the best environmental outcome it can afford.
It will discuss with experts from Zero Waste Scotland issues like the impact of different methods/frequencies of collection, how and where the waste is sorted and specific local factors.
“This will generate options for the council on the most economic collection and disposal arrangements for waste and recycling, including glass,” infrastructure director Maggie Sandison said.
“The council will then consider these options and decide how its future waste and recycling services will be delivered.
“Clearly if an on-island solution was demonstrated to be the best economic and environmental solution for any of the key recyclates – glass, paper, card, plastic, ferrous and non-ferrous metal – this would be recommended to the council.”
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