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"Deep concern" as MRFs gear up for growing tonnages of mixed glass

Reports that more and more materials recycling facilities (MRF) are gearing up to sort growing tonnages of mixed glass have caused deep concern within the glass industry. Trade association British Glass Manufacturers Confederation (BGMC) director general David Workman said that current legislation pushes local authorities (LAs) to abandon separated collections when many dont want to. The reports were based on research conducted by LA consultant Jennie Rogers, who was also stunned by the results. Workman said: Weight-based targets mean that LAs have little option other than to mix the waste that they collect, even though the traditional bring system is by far the most economic way of collecting glass. Increasing sorting capacity [at MRFs] is an indication of how we are getting glass recycling badly wrong. What is needed is recycling legislation that concentrates on delivering the biggest environmental benefit not the greatest tonnage. The majority of MRFs produce poor quality mixed material that has little use other than as aggregate replacement, which is the least environmentally friendly way of using it. Annual growth in closed loop glass recycling slowed from 10% in 2005 to 1.8% in 2006. The organisation said that the reduced growth rate is, in part, a result of a reduction in the quality of materials being returned to the industry. He added: Maximising the amount of colour separated cullet going to the UK glass container industry delivers the biggest environmental benefit in energy use and reduced emissions. Last year glass recycling reduced UK CO2 emissions by around 200,000 tonnes. The container sector could absorb much higher tonnages of glass, but such growth can only come from the greater volumes of clear and brown glass, ideally from colour separated collections, not from MRFs. I am even getting reports that good quality green cullet is in short supply. While more MRFs processing more mixed glass may look good on paper, this is a solution that ignores the whole resource efficiency agenda. At the same time a huge opportunity to reduce CO2 emissions is being lost.

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