The importance of Glass Recycling
In the UK glass recycling has doubled in just five years, thanks to a better-informed public and improved facilities. Despite the positivity, at ReGen Waste we understand there is no time for complacency on the matter. The UK's improved glass recycling rate remains 30-35% beneath that of other European countries such as Finland and Switzerland.
Of late, the primary focus of the government's green efforts has been on the 'plastic problem', but glass recycling must not be allowed to stagnate. Today, we want to remind you of why glass recycling is so important and how we believe the process can be improved.
Why is it important to recycle glass?
Glass production is an energy-intensive process, from sourcing to transportation and composition, the process emits a lot of carbon. It can be difficult for people to grasp how damaging the production process is. The mantra that the raw materials needed for glass (sand, soda ash and limestone) are widely available is accurate; however, the quarrying involved can have adverse long-term effects on landscapes and the broader environment.
Compared to producing new glass, recycling glass has a drastic effect on carbon emissions. For every 6 tonnes of glass recycled, one tonne of CO2 is reduced from the environment.
How is glass recycled?
After bottles and jars are collected, they are transported to a waste management centre to be grouped. Magnets are commonly used to separate glass from other waste types. Once the glass is isolated from other materials, it is divided by colour. Again, technology has a role to play, as lasers are used to identify the different shades.
The next part of the process produces 'cullet', simply put, this is the remains of the glass once it has been crushed. Cullet is then melted in a furnace, that can reach temperatures of 1500c, and then liquefied. Once the glass is in a liquid form, it is ready to be blown or pressed to produce new bottles or jars. This process can be repeated several times, limiting the need to create new glass.
The big difference.
When compared to producing new glass, recycling glass is a much less complicated process. It does not harm the natural landscape through drilling and digging, nor does it release the same volumes of carbon. In the race to reduce waste to landfill, improving glass recycling rates is a must, thankfully tech is on our side.
At ReGen we use the most advanced recycling techniques to reuse a staggering 95% of the glass that comes onsite. Our 'back to bottle' initiative sees work alongside recycling experts High 5 in Belgium to ensure the recovered material is put to use. The added benefit of such long-term commitments is that glass recycling creates jobs. Some estimates state that for every 100K tonnes of glass recycled, 500 jobs are created, an astonishing positive in itself.