Glass packaging best for the environment

By Rory Harrington

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Glass, European union, Eu

Glass packaging is a fully sustainable resource said a leading European trade body as it announced more than 25 billion jars and bottles weighing over 11 million tonnes had been recycled in 2008.

FEVE – the EU association for container glass – declared that glass was the most eco-friendly packing material as it released figures showing that the 25.5 billion containers collected for recycling in 2008 represented “an average recycling rate of 65 per cent for the EU27 countries”​. The haul represents almost 11.5 million tonnes of glass collected throughout the body’s European membership – including Turkey, Switzerland and Norway.

The group said glass was best for the environment. It added glass recycling preserves natural resources – with every one tonne of recycled glass saving 1.2 tonnes of natural raw materials. It claimed that recycling glass also saves energy. Each 10 per cent of recycled glass added in the production cycle results in a saving of around 3 per cent.

Dominique Tombeur, president of FEVE, said: “This data confirms the clear positive trend over the last year when, thanks to the collaboration of citizens, a number of EU countries have reached the ambitious 60% collection target fixed by the EU Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive.”

The group added that Belgium and Sweden performed best with “close to 100 per cent”​ of glass bottles and jars that were put on the market collected for recycling. Further improvements in the “good results”​ of Austria, Denmark, Finland, Ireland and Spain were also seen. It said that progress was still necessary in collection and recycling systems in Eastern Europe but added that the Czech Republic and Slovakia had seen a “steady improvement”.

FEVE emphasised the strong co-operation from citizens, industry and policy makers was need to make the vision of a zero waste packaging a reality.

Consumption versus waste generation

The group said that over the last decade there had been a decoupling of consumption from waste generation. While national consumption in the EU15 had risen by 8 per cent since 1998, glass packing waste earmarked for landfill and what it called “other uses”​ had fallen by 26 per cent.

“The results reached in glass collection for recycling prove that glass packaging is a fully sustainable resource”,​ said Tombeur. “Unlike other materials a very high rate of collected glass is actually recycled in a new production cycle with an extremely positive impact on depletion of raw material savings, energy savings and emissions saving.”

The body added that because of a “proven and longstanding closed loop bottle-to-bottle recycling system, recycled glass stands out as real renewable material”​. It said glass is 100 per cent and endlessly recyclable.

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