In 2012, approximately 82 thousand tonnes of glass packaging was placed on the Croatian market (preliminary data, including empty and full packaging). Of that, only about 40.8 thousand tons was returned to the Vetropack Straža recycling plant, meaning that more than 40 thousand tonnes ended up in municipal landfills, or worse, in illegal landfills.
A review of the trends in glass recycling in the period since 2006 (when the current Ordinance on the handling of waste packaging entered into force), a particularly negative trend is evident. In 2006, the recycling rate in Croatia was at 58.4%, and dropped to 51% by 2009, and further to 49.2% in 2012. This is a clear signal that changes need to be made to the entire packaging handling system, for after the initial good results, the system proved to be inefficient.
Glass can be recycled countless times without losing its quality. By increasing the share of old glass into the mixture for the manufacture of new bottles and jars, energy is saved, the consumption of primary raw materials and emissions of waste gases are reduced. In order to further increase the share of waste glass into the mixture, Vetropack Straža is intensively researching possible sources of waste glass from neighbouring countries. During 2012, a total of 35 thousand tons of old glass was imported from Hungary, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Austria and Serbia. Together with the 40 thousand tonnes collected in Croatia, this accounts for a total of 75.9 thousand tonnes. However, this is still far from the quantity that would achieve the desired increase of the share of waste glass in the production mixture.
It can be expected that with Croatia’s upcoming accession into the European Union, the waste packaging handling system will finally be sorted out (and with that the associated legislation) and the administrative barriers that are currently hindering Vetropack Straža in the import of valuable raw materials from western countries will finally be eliminated. However, it is logical to expect that waste glass will still primarily be collected from the Croatian market, and our neighbouring markets.
Vetropack Straža is an active participant in the waste packaging handling system. The company has received a 10-year concession for the recycling of waste glass packaging from the Ministry of Environmental Protection, Physical Planning and Construction. The company is continually investing in modernising the recycling plant, which has a capacity to process the complete supply of glass that is placed on the Croatian market.
We continue to educate suppliers on the need for clean glass waste and we focus on PR activities directed at younger school children concerning the proper disposal of glass packaging (cooperation with schools, website: www.recikliranje-stakla.com).
Vetropack Straža is the first and last step in the life cycle of glass packaging. We consider this a privilege (as the manufacturer and the processor) and a responsibility to actively and constantly work towards improving the recycling system.