Contrary to popular belief it’s been consistently proven impossible or practical for all glass to be
recycled endlessly in a closed loop cycle as often claimed.
Annually more than 200 million tonnes of glass is produced globally, less than 40% is re-used for new glass production (remelt or glass wool) due to limited furnace capacity, quality, colour disparity, location, and economics, as a result this material ends its life in landfill as daily cover or used as a low value aggregate substitute.
Economics has always been the challenge for the recycling industry, balancing high cost of recovery
and processing with proportionally low cullet value. A greater challenge for glass recycling is the long
chain CO 2 cost of delivering glass to a furnace, in many cases the true cost of CO 2 is not appreciated
or understood, claimed CO 2 benefit of using cullet does not account for its recovery, recycling,
transport, nor the disposal to landfill of the glass which is not suitable for remelt.
Sustainable low CO 2 solutions for 100% of glass entering a recycling facility are required, not just
cullet. A recent EU wide announcement to increase recycling rates to 90% is a significant and
progressive step, one which challenges the industry to consider its strategy and drive investment.
Innovation has always challenged the recycling industry to evolve, never has there been greater
focus on science and innovation to achieve more with less. Innovation and progressive thinking is
developing a clearer strategy for glass recycling, one focused on low CO 2 and the recycling of all types
of glass including containers, flat glass, pharmaceutical borosilicate and photovoltaic (PV) cells.
By increasing the demand for alternative low CO 2 uses of glass across a broad spectrum of markets
enhances commercial viability, stimulating investment across the glass recycling landscape.
Considering glass recycling within a more encompassing strategy will provide a greater quantity of
high-quality cullet across a broader marketplace, while providing ultra-low CO 2 materials for multiple
diverse markets which are both technically and commercially viable, decreasing the glass industry’s
overall CO 2 footprint and meeting the challenging 90% recycling target.
We consider how a more inclusive CO 2 strategy will evolve a more inclusive recycling system, one
focused on maximising glass recovery and reuse. A system based on glass location, quality and
market options, while understanding the complexities and market dynamics of establish a fair and
logical approach for Improving cullet quality and quantity and increasing revenue and investment
opportunities of glass historically landfilled or used in low value markets.
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