GLASS bottles collected for recycling across Hampshire are no longer processed and shipped from Southampton Docks.
Instead 35,000 tonnes of glass per year – about 1,200 lorry loads – is being trucked to recycling plants as far afield as Yorkshire.
Green campaigners have criticised the move as putting extra lorries on the road but it means more money for cash-strapped councils.
Recrescro, the previous contractor, had built a £2m recycling plant in the Western Docks, the first of its kind in the UK which officially opened in 2003.
The project was spearheaded by Project Integra (PI), a partnership of councils in Hampshire to manage waste, which worked jointly with the Midland Glass Company Now PI has awarded a new five-year contract to Veolia Environmental Services after bosses promised councils a bigger share of the profits from selling the recycled glass.
The decision was made by officers from Portsmouth City Council on behalf of PI which was billed £30,000 bill for officer time for going out to tender.
Councillors were informed of the new contractor at the last PI board meeting.
Barni Fry, glass contract manager for Portsmouth City Council, told councillors they were losing a local plant and shipping facility but would benefit from increased income.
But Alison Craig, of Winchester Green Party, said: “It seems crazy to add those extra petrol miles. In terms of the environment, it will cost more. It is a step backwards not to be using a facility in our backyard.”
Veolia Environmental Services have a national agreement with Berrymans, the market leader for recycling glass with processing plants in London, Yorkshire and Kent.
Two are next to bottle-making factories so there is no further need of transport. Council officers say not all glass was previously shipped from Southampton and some went north by road.
On the loss of the Project Integra glass contract, Phil Martin, director of Recresco, said: “It did make things difficult for a number of months but now we have got different work streams and are operating at full capacity on site again.”
Mr Martin said there had been some short-term job losses at the Southampton glass recycling facility but they were now up to strength again.
He said all Hampshire’s glass was previously shipped from Southampton docks – contradicting officials from Project Integra.
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