Recycling glass is an easy environmental win yet the amount of material available for remelt continues to decline. Rebecca Cocking, head of container affairs at the British Glass Manufacturers’ Confederation, takes a look at what can be done
Partnership working is nothing new. But as more companies have become involved in the supply chain, the concept of partnership working has become fragmented - isolated even.
Many people involved in recycling still believe the UK can succeed by working in isolation. We are moving towards targets that have no connection to other policies or strategies. The bottom of the supply chain rarely communicates with the top. So what does all this mean?
From a glass sector perspective, the industry has commitments under the Climate Change Agreement to reduce emissions. Emissions from glass manufacture can be reduced by increasing the amount of recycled glass going into the furnace.
Increasing recycled content assists brands and retailers in meeting their environmental objectives and targets. And it is well known that the glass industry cannot obtain the quality of recycled glass required to manufacture, resulting in the industry having to use more raw materials.
The impact of this is that more quarrying of the basic raw materials is needed and the industry is not able to reduce its emissions.
It could be argued that it does not matter where the glass goes as long as it is being recycled because it is helping councils to cut the amount of waste being sent to landfill. It also assists with the ‘localism’ agenda while helping the UK to meet obligations under the Packaging Waste Directive.
But is this the right direction for the UK?
The Government appears to disagree. The latest packaging and packaging waste legislation revision has included a split for glass, the first material to be singled out, which is something the UK glass container industry supports.
The revised regulations will see a cap on the amount of glass that can be recycled into aggregate use, acknowledging the environmental benefit of glass used instead for remelt. This might be seen by some as being a positive move, but there is still concern that, while the drive is correct, there is no incentive for those involved.
So what is the answer?
We need to work towards collaboration and away from the blame game. Industry organisation British Glass is in the process of speaking to many in the supply chain to see what could be done.
There may not be a single answer. But unless we all start communicating and discussing our issues, concerns and constraints, the amount of glass available to the glass remelt sector will continue to decline.
British Glass will have a stand in the Materials Village in hall 6. It wants those in the supply chain to come along and talk to them - and start the discussion around increasing glass remelt recycling