14 August 2020 by James Langley

Subscription glass service resumes in Portsmouth

Portsmouth-based glass recycling scheme Just Glass has resumed collections after operations were suspended for two months during the coronavirus-enforced lockdown.

Glass is not currently collected separately by Portsmouth city council, but it says the introduction of the service is under consideration as part of the government’s Resources and Waste Strategy.

For a fee of £7.99 a month, Just Glass offers a kerbside collection service for glass for recycling. The company delivers customers a container and collects their waste at the end of the month, leaving them with an empty container with which to start the next month.

Childhood friends Owen Horsley (l) and Oliver Oakley (r) set up Just Glass in 2019

Co-founder Oliver Oakley told letsrecycle.com: “Covid-19 actually saw us increase our customer base. With the bars and restaurants being closed, people have taken to having drinks at home, therefore producing more glass waste than normal.

“So, we saw some more customers sign up during the pandemic. We did have to cease collections for two months, but our customers were really understanding and of course we informed them we would take all of their additional glass waste that they have produced during the lockdown on the first collection post-lockdown, which we did.

“We didn’t charge for the two months we couldn’t collect either. So, it did hamper us slightly, but we recovered well.”

Just Glass currently collects a tonne of glass a month from Portsmouth and the surrounding area. The glass is taken to Suez in Fareham, where it is then sold on for recycling.

Portsmouth

With a population of more than 238,000, Portsmouth had a recycling rate of 25.5% for the 2018/19 financial year.

Portsmouth city council had a recycling rate of 25.5% for the 2018/19 financial year

Separate collection of household glass is not currently a service offered by Portsmouth city council.

A council spokesperson told letsrecycle.com: “Card and paper make up the largest proportion of recycling in Portsmouth. If we were to collect glass in the same bin and it smashed, it would lower the quality of the card and paper and risk it being rejected by reprocessors.

“Also, we do not have the technology in place currently to separate glass at the MRF. To put on a separate glass collection would need new vehicles, crews and a large investment, which we hadn’t deemed cost-effective in the past.

“However, this is something we are considering as part of work to meet the government’s Environment Bill and Waste and Resource Strategy. We are reviewing a number of options for collection of glass including a separate kerbside collection and whether this is viable if a deposit return scheme is introduced.

“We have 164 glass banks split between 65 sites, meaning Portsmouth residents are never too far from one.”

History

Just Glass was established in September 2019 by Oliver Oakley and Owen Horsley. The pair say they were inspired to launch the business after noticing local bottle banks were forever full and overflowing.

One of the branded containers in which Just Glass collects glass from its customers

The company only had a handful of customers until January 2020 and carried out collections in a single car on a Sunday evening, Mr Oakley said. Now the pair are out all day on a Sunday in a branded van collecting glass.

Mr Oakley said Just Glass primarily targets working family households, though it has recently seen a few small independent coffee shops sign up to its services.

Just Glass has also pledged to donate 10% of all profits to Portsmouth-based charity Just One Ocean.

Subscription

Mr Oakley told letsrecycle.com: “We feel our business model is important to our success. The subscription mode.

“With more and more subscriptions in the household and it becoming the normal way to pay for more and more things we feel we fit in perfectly.

“With the environment being such a hot topic in recent years too we feel as if our customers are buying into us because of how we’ve structured the business; they believe what we believe about convenience and sustainability.”

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