EU Commits To Glass Packaging Recycling ! Already at 74% | Valdamark Packaging

The latest industry data on glass recycling suggests that Europe recycled an impressive 12 million tonnes of glass packaging last year.

EU

The latest industry data on glass recycling suggests that Europe recycled an impressive 12 million tonnes of glass packaging last year. This included the usual culprits like bottles & glass jars as well as more uncommon glass products like windshields and home window.

Overall the combined efforts of the EU 28 states equate to a 74% recycling rate!

This date is actually from 2016 but 2017 & 2018 are actually expected to be higher.

Glass is still the best performing food grade material on the recycling fly wheel, according to the European Glass Container Federation.

More generally the EU has committed to goals on municipal waste reduction as well as glass packaging recycling.

This means that separate collections will need to resume again as in previous years, this is aimed at engaging consumers as well as the municipalities themselves.

New schemes and initiative are needed as it is thought that the impressive 74% recycling rate figure hides problems that exist from state to state.

Adeline Farrelly, FEVE Secretary general suggests that tailored solutions will be required in order to separate glass packaging recycling from other materials like metal foil laminate packaging.

Performance differs drastically from country to country. At the top of the league in the 90% percentile are countries like Belgium, Finland, Austria & Sweden.

These countries have the separate & secondary collection schemes whereby glass packaging is not just collected to hit a target but to provide valuable raw materials for industrial packaging companies and suppliers.

At the other end of the table are countries like Greece, Hungary, Malta & Romania where there isn’t really a collection or recycling culture. There is much potential for growth here though.

FEVE has been quoted as saying that each country is different and will require a bespoke solution to move forward and put glass packaging recycling at the top of the agenda.

Glass Packaging Recycling and Ambitious Targets

Setting ambitious targets for Glass Packaging Recycling is key to improving recycling rates. Unlike Deposit Return Schemes (DRS), a focus on optimising collection, sorting, and recycling technologies can boost the quantity and quality of recycled glass. This commitment is shared among glass producers in Europe.

The Significance of Post-Consumer Recycled Glass
Post-consumer recycled glass is crucial for creating new glass packaging. Currently, the average European glass container contains 52% recycled content.

Integrating recycled content targets in the PPWR stimulates demand for materials with recycling challenges, like plastics. However, for materials like glass and metals, there are no technical limitations to increasing recycled content. Recycled glass is in high demand, often exceeding supply.

The European Commitment to Quality Recycling
The European container glass industry is committed to enhancing recycling quality. Glass recycling is widespread in Europe, with an average collection rate of 80.1% in 2021.

Most recycled glass, around 91%, is effectively recycled in a closed-loop process. In 2020, the "Close the Glass Loop" initiative was introduced to achieve a 90% EU collection rate for used glass packaging by 2030.

Advocating for a 90% Collection Target
We call for a mandatory 90% collection for recycling target for glass by 2030. Quality recycling relies on separate collection and sorting.

Deposit Return Schemes for Glass
Including one-way glass packaging in DRS is not the ideal solution to reach a 90% collection rate for all glass packaging. DRS may hinder glass collection and recycling efforts. Evidence doesn't support claims that DRS leads to more reuse.

Reusable packaging sales have declined across Europe, regardless of DRS's presence. We support improving Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) and waste management systems for one-way packaging to enhance collection and recycling.

Endorsing Recyclable Packaging Mandates
We support the European Commission's goal to mandate recyclable packaging. This ensures efficient collection, sorting, and recycling on a large scale.

We also endorse "Design for recycling" criteria and A-E recyclability grades for EPR fees. However, we believe there are missed opportunities in the transition to a circular economy for packaging and call for higher ambition in the PPWR:

  1. All packaging should be recyclable by 2030.
  2. Differentiate the qualities of secondary raw materials, defining high-quality recycling.
  3. Complement quantitative recyclability performance grades with qualitative descriptions. Grade A should reward packaging that can be recycled multiple times, including glass packaging.

A Call for Enhanced Glass Packaging Recycling

Setting ambitious targets for Glass Packaging Recycling is a shared commitment among European glass producers. We advocate for a 90% collection target by 2030 and oppose the inclusion of one-way glass in DRS.

Instead, we support improving EPR and waste management systems. We endorse recyclable packaging mandates and call for greater ambition in the PPWR to achieve a fully circular economy for all packaging materials, including glass.

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