According to the latest glass recycling estimates - published today by the European Container Glass Federation (FEVE) and one year ahead of Eurostat’s official data - the average glass recycling rate in the European Union remains stable at 68%. That means about 25 billion glass bottles and jars were collected throughout the European Union in 2010.
While industry makes use of all the glass that is collected; not all types of recycling carry the same environmental benefit. The product closed loop is at the top because it replaces the need for virgin materials within the same product life cycle: 80% of collected glass bottles and jars are recycled in a bottle-to-bottle closed loop recycling system. By recycling glass, in 2010 in the EU:
· More than 12 million tons of raw materials (sand, soda ash, limestone) were saved: that’s two Egyptian Pyramids worth of sand and other raw materials saved.
· More than 7 million tons of CO2 was avoided equal to taking 4 million cars off the road.
Because glass is 100% infinitely recyclable in a closed loop system, each time a bottle or jar is properly collected and recycled and made into new containers, energy and raw materials are saved and less CO2 is emitted. These characteristics make glass a clear example to follow in the ambitious strategy of the European Commission to make the European Union a ‘resource efficient’ economy where recycling is the key factor to waste reduction and where waste is considered as a valuable resource.
“Glass collection and recycling is the perfect component of a circular economy,” says Niall Wall, President of FEVE. “As there is still 32% of glass that is not yet collected our goal is to get this precious resource back in the bottle-to-bottle loop. With the help of national and EU authorities, collectors and processors we want to increase the quantities of good quality glass collected so that we can recycle more in our plants.”
FEVE has recently worked with ACR+ the Association of Cities and Regions for Recycling and Sustainable Resource Management to promote good practices in glass recycling in Europe. The report says separated waste collection schemes should be widely supported if we are to build a circular economy for glass packaging. In May 2012 the EU Commission is due to announce a new legal status for post consumer glass (cullet) – giving cullet a status of non-waste, a measure that is likely to help further increase glass recycling rates.