Most recent industry information on glass recycling affirms that more than 12 million tons of glass jugs and containers are gathered and reused in Europe, with a normal glass Recycling rate in the EU28 of 74%.
The latest industry data have a two-year time lag dating from 2016.
Glass remains the best performing food grade closed loop in the world, as indicated by the European Glass Container Federation (FEVE), which says the present figure is set to rise.
EU Member States have committed to targets on municipal waste reduction and glass packaging recycling. This signals a renewed investment in separate collection for glass packaging in the coming years, which will engage consumers, municipalities, Extended Producer Responsibility schemes, recyclers and manufacturers in a collaborative effort to collect, sort and treat the glass that is currently leaking from the system, FEVE says.
The average 74% EU glass collection for recycling rate masks a variety of situations between countries, FEVE says.
Performance rates vary. Countries in the ‘Over 90%’ top league are: Belgium, Finland, Austria, Sweden and Slovenia where separate collection schemes for glass perform very well and provide a high quality secondary raw material for the industry. Countries in the ‘Under 40%’ league are: Greece, Hungary, Slovak Republic, Malta, Romania where the collection culture and, consequently the glass collection schemes have important potential for growth.
Looking at overall volumes of glass gathered, the image in bigger nations, for example, France, Italy, the UK, Poland or Spain is extraordinary.
FEVE says each country is different and will need its own focused and tailored strategy to ensure top class glass recycling. In conclusion, each country is different and will need its own focused and tailored strategy to ensure top class glass recycling.
“As an industry we commit to actually recycle all collected glass of sufficient quality in the closed loop. An estimated 90% of what is collected goes into creating new bottles from old ones, offering brands and consumers a food grade quality recycled material. Today, recycled glass is our most important raw material, which brings us major environmental benefits, and energy savings”, commented Adeline Farrelly, FEVE Secretary General.
“Our recent study on glass packaging recycling demonstrates that countries such as Austria and Sweden have gone beyond 90% collection for recycling rates by installing bottle bank systems and investing in consumer awareness. Tailored solutions will need to be found locally, but separating glass from the other materials is the best investment for public authorities to meet the new glass recycling targets. Our recent consumer research suggests that particularly for millennials, environmental credentials drive their product choice, and that the take-back culture for glass packaging is very strong where there is bottle bank infrastructure in place.
“Consumers have a strong connection with glass packaging, which is for them more than just a packaging”, she continued. “Over ten years ago, the industry decided to invest in consumer communications to raise awareness about the importance of glass recycling and the other key assets of glass packaging. We want to help bridge the collection gap, but clearly cannot do so on our own. Efforts across the value chain are needed.”