Queenie Rikihana Writes

The glassman cometh … again

By Queenie Rikihana       

Barry Lucinsky should be renamed ‘Mr Recyclable.’ The entrepreneur who put Kiwi Loos on state highways is now taking his crushed glass invention and turning out new products — concrete/glass pavers; plastic/glass sheets similar to ply; and fine glass for making mulch.

He admits to ‘pushing 80 years’ but the irascible, wiry, Te Horo local is still in business, operating his glass crusher out of the Otaki Transfer Station.

Dream of helping young and jobless

The business is labour intensive, and his dream of training young unemployed to work alongside him may become a reality after Christmas.

He’s had family help from son-in law Malcolm and grandson Jack, but hopes the young men recently made redundant from the concrete industry will have WINZ  permission to get on board.

Barry says at this point he cannot pay them as his cash flow is “zilch” until the business is properly up and working.

It was while he was connected with the ‘Keep NZ Beautiful’ organization that he became aware of the stockpiles of glass in landfills around the country.

A breakthrough came when Transit New Zealand agreed to include crushed glass as a roading aggregate.

Worked with the glass industry

He worked with the glass industry packaging forum and, working through them, arranged for a glass crusher to be built with a $750,000 pilot grant.

“My wife and I went around New Zealand, crushing waste glass,” he says. “It proved a point – the fact that glass was crushable and that it was then safe”.

In 2008, he ‘retired’ but when  he was at home he decided to build his own crushers.

“I did a number of little jobs around the place; and used the glass on driveways at The Winemakers Daughter and other places,” he says.

“One of the biggest problems was convincing people that crushed glass does not cut you.”

And he experimented with how finely he could crush glass.

‘Ideal for removing graffiti’

“I got the sandblasting industry interested after I’d rendered the stuff down to l mm in diameter. We found the very fine sand-glass was ideal for removing graffiti off concrete surfaces,” he says.

“We even talked to golf clubs about putting it in bunkers and even on the greens”.

A big job was using 2,500 cubit metres of the fine glass on the grass of Trafalgar Park in Nelson.

And the cement/glass mix is currently being made into garden ornaments by a Foxton company.

“They have made doves, cats, Easter Island heads, — and they also made us a water feature to put on display,” he says.

Enthusiasm convinces others

Talk with Barry for a couple of easy hours and you realize that, with his enthusiasm, it will be easy to convince others.

His chat with the new owner of the former Otaki plastic company – Leo Goodman – has led to Mr Goodman using a mix of plastic milk bottles and fine glass sand to make a product that looks  just like sheets of ply.

However its special properties means there is an immediate market for it.

“We have some on trial at Bennett’s poultry farm. They’d been having problems — the stands which the chickens used were rotting.”

He says there’s a trial now using the sheets, which are 8mm wide. Half the floor is sawdust but the fowls were also fouling on the step up from the floor. He says the product is used there – and has worked out to be 20 per cent cheaper.

“We call it Plasglass – that’s our name,” says Barry.

Well, after I had chatted for two hours with Barry, it was clear to me that — though he is pushing 80 –he will still be around to see his vision through.

He asserts he is doing it all because he wants the local Kapiti community to know this is ‘something we can all do here, we don’t have to cart it anywhere  and the products can be used here – in New Zealand.’

Barry’s company, Silica Glass Crushers, is associated with the Clean Technology Centre in Otaki’s Miro street — and is linked to the sustainable ambitions of Kapiti Coast District Council.