Industry data on glass recycling has shown that over 12 million tonnes of glass bottles and jars are collected and recycled in Europe, with an average glass recycling rate in the EU28 of 74%.
This data comes from The European Container Glass Federation (FEVE) which found that glass remains the best performing food grade closed loop globally, and the recycling rate should be set to rise.
EU Member States have committed to ambitious targets on municipal waste reduction and glass packaging recycling.
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This indicates renewed investment in separate collections 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 glass, said FEVE.
FEVE secretary general Adeline Farrelly said: “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.”
FEVE’s study on glass recycling shows that countries such as Austria and Sweden have gone beyond 90% collection for recycling rates by implementing bottle bank systems and investing in consumer awareness.
The Federation believes that tailored solutions will need to be found locally but separating glass from other materials is the best investment for public authorities to meet the new glass recycling targets.
Its research found that for millennials, environmental credentials drive their product choice, and that take-back schemes for glass packaging is strong where there is a bottle bank in place.
Adeline Farrelly added: “Consumers have a strong connection with glass packaging, which is for them more than just a packaging. 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.”
Countries including Belgium, Finland, Austria, Sweden and Slovenia all have over a 90% glass recycling rate and have separate collection schemes for glass that provide high quality secondary raw material for the industry.
However, countries that have under 40% glass recycling rate, including Greece, Hungary, Slovak Republic, Malta and Romania, all have important potential to grow glass collection schemes.
The Federation has said that each country is different and will need its own focused strategy to allow quality glass recycling.