Ardagh has signed a 15-year agreement with Reuse in the UK to increase glass recycling.
The partnership will oversee a £5m investment in sorting and separation technology for better material recovery of glass by colour from the waste stream.
Clear (flint) glass
Glass particles, as small as 4mm, can now be separated by colour, as opposed to 10mm with its previous technology.
Larry Mantell, procurement director UK, Ardagh Group, told FoodProductionDaily the deal includes a commitment to maintaining the latest technology on the market including further investment and upgrades.
“Technologically, there have been significant advances lately, especially when it comes to separating the glass by colour at much smaller particle sizes,” he said.
“The technology potentially benefits all our furnaces, although we are targeting flint and amber as that is the area that can really benefit from an improvement in cullet quality.”
Sharon Crayton, head of marketing, Ardagh Glass, Europe, added the company has been producing green bottles that contain over 90% of recycled glass for many years, but high recycling levels for clear (flint) glass posed a challenge due to difficulties in colour separating clear glass back to a pure colour.
“This technology will help us to increase the recycled content for clear (flint) bottles and jars,” she said.
“For example, our Doncaster plant which is focused solely on the production of clear (flint) glass, achieved an average recycled content level of over 50% in the first quarter of 2014 against an average recycling rate of 32% in the same quarter of 2013.
“Glass packaging is already a successful environmental story as bottles can be recycled over and over again. This partnership enables us to make even more use of the glass that is recycled throughout Yorkshire and the North of England.”
Ardagh has three glass manufacturing plants in Yorkshire (at Knottingley, Doncaster and Barnsley). Reuse (a division of the privately owned Australian recycling and waste management company, URM (United Resource Management), has three plants in Yorkshire.
Quality colour separated cullet
Its glass sorting and separation facilities have a total capacity for up to 250,000 tonnes of waste glass – approximately 13% of the UK’s steam of waste glass. Most of the glass supplied to these units is collected in the North of England.
Mark Wilson, Reuse, said with recent changes in the way waste glass is collected, moving away from bottle banks to commingled household (kerbside) collections, the challenge was to find better ways of separating the glass from other recyclables, and then re-processing it into quality colour separated cullet.
“This investment, the first in an ongoing programme, gives us the technology to produce more finished cullet to meet the growing requirements of Ardagh,” he added.
The technology comprises a four stage process, starting with the removal of medium sized organic and loose ferrous metals, followed by a drying section to remove dust and smaller materials, and thirdly, the removal of residual metallic, leaded glass and materials that burn at higher temperatures than container glass, such as pyrex.
The final stage subjects the remaining material to a thorough cleaning process before it is separated by colour using purification and optical sorting techniques.
The “pure” cullet is then supplied to Ardagh for use in its furnaces to make bottles and jars.