ONE of the UK’s leading providers of recycling and resource recovery solutions, Enva, has joined the European glass packaging industry in calling to “Close the Glass Loop” and improve the quality and quantity of glass collected.
Enva – a major processor of glass – has warned of the dangers of removing dedicated bulk collections (bring banks) in favour of co-mingled kerbside collections which can result in less material being of high enough quality to reuse in the manufacturing of new glass bottles or jars. As a result, it is more likely to be destined for use as an aggregate in landscaping, road building or construction.
The ultimate consequence is the loss of this material forever and any future value that would have been realised from its ability to be continually recycled, failing on the ideal of a circular economy.
“Glass is the perfect circular economy material as it’s 100% and endlessly recyclable without any loss to quality,” explained Barry Phillips, director of Enva Northern Ireland. “The increased use of cullet (glass that is crushed and ready to be re-melted), is increasingly a priority for the glass industry. Every tonne of glass re-melted saves 246kg of carbon dioxide emissions as well as reducing energy consumption and reliance on virgin raw materials.
“The use of cullet in glass packaging such as bottles and jars is however dependent upon the supply of a high quality and consistent product. Despite significant technological improvements in materials recycling facility (MRF) this is still hard to deliver when recovering glass from a comingled source.
“If we remove the infrastructure required for [dedicated glass] collections, such as boxes for households or bottle banks, we make it extremely hard to revert. Also, many members of public currently engage willingly in valuable source separation and transport of the glass to their dedicated local collection point, at no additional cost to the council. This responsible recycling behaviour has been hard fought for over many years but could quickly be destroyed if the public receive confused messages encouraging them just to put glass into their comingled recycling or general waste bin.”
You can read Barry Phillips’ full statement here.