Because it meets customer needs while conserving natural resources for future generations, glass recycling fits perfectly with a sustainable development approach. Clearly a process of the future, glass recycling nonetheless has strong historical roots: European countries have been recycling glass for about 30 years, and selective sorting has become a commonplace and accepted practice.
As the fully and infinitely recyclable product
Glass has intrinsic qualities making it a high environmental performer. Fully recyclable means just that – a used bottle can be utilized to manufacture a new bottle – an endless glass recycling cycle in which nothing is lost in terms of both quality and quantity. Combined with all its other properties, “recyclability” is, therefore, the perfect word to describe glass.
The use of cullet within our environmental approach is steadily increasing. Glassmaker’s main raw material, cullet – glass from selective collection and reused as part of the composition of new glass – can account for up to 95 percent of the raw material used to manufacture glass. In Europe, for example, cullet represents approximately 60 percent of the raw materials used in our furnaces.
The Ecological Advantages of Glass Recycling
The following are the main ecological advantages of using cullet in the glassmaking process:
- Energy savings, since the collected glass melts at a lower temperature than raw natural products, and so more easily and faster;
- Less CO2 emitted into the atmosphere;
- Less consumption of natural resources, as the cullet replaces the raw materials (silica sand, limestone and sodium carbonate) used in the composition of glass. Each metric tonne of cullet used reduces the amount of unexploited raw materials used by 1.2 metric tonnes;
- Less waste and maximum recovery of household waste avoiding its disposal in landfills or incinerators.
Packaging Quality: Uncompromising
Glassmakers’ qualitative requirements are dictated by the process and by the quality excellence demanded by their customers. While a product is easy to see in glass packaging, the main purpose of glass is to protect it. The associated demand for flawless quality applies as equally to recycled as to new glass, if not more so. Indeed, the higher the proportion of cullet that is used in the production of glass, the lower the level of acceptable impurities.
Verallia’s Recycling Policy
Verallia has made recycling one of the focal and strategic points of its sustainable development policy. Most of its plants provide an outlet for household cullet while also recycling all their own production waste.
Until now, the emphasis has been on treatment, the major step in the recycling process at the end of which the sorted glass, free of any impurities, is ground to produce clean cullet, ready to be used to produce new glass. Verallia has invested in industrial treatment facilities and the development of expertise in glass processing. Today, Verallia is also investing further upstream in the recycling chain (communication, awareness, recycling container adaptation or renewal, etc.) to encourage consumers to pay more attention to the quality of their glass sorting.
All these initiatives have been developed in response to the growing expectations of the consumer-citizen who is now highly committed to the economic and ecological challenges of recycling, within the context of the highly topical issue of sustainable development.
From Recycled Glass to the Consumer: An Ecological Chain
- Consumers deposit glass in collection containers or bins.
- The glass is collected and transported to treatment centers.
- The glass is sorted and free of its impurities to be made into cullet.
- Delivered to glass plants, the cullet is melted again to manufacture new glass packaging (bottles, jars, etc.)
- The new glass packaging is filled in bottling plants.
- Returned to the distribution circuit, the packaging is delivered to stores and bought by consumers.
- European Glass Container Federation : www.feve.org
Photos : Arnaud Bouissou