The European Commission (EC) published a package in December
for an EU Circular Economy, which includes recycling targets
for glass packaging of 75% by 2030 as well as addressing
plastic waste reduction.
To ensure that the value of products and materials is
maintained, while reducing waste and preserving resources, the
commission has put together revised legislative proposals on
waste and a comprehensive action plan, setting out a concrete
mandate for the EC’s present term of office.
"Glass holds a special place in the EU Circular Economy,"
European Container Glass Federation (FEVE) said in a statement
welcoming the initiative.
"It is a permanent material that is 100% and endlessly
recycled without any degradation of its intrinsic properties,
as long as it is separately collected and treated," FEVE
outlined, adding that the latest statistics show that 73% of
all post-consumer glass packaging in the EU is collected for
However, a spokesperson for the organisation told
IM that the proposed recycling targets would
be challenging, particularly in some Eastern European countries
where recycling is still very low.
"In Hungary recycling is only at 32% and in Romania
recycling is only at 47%," the spokesperson said. "Other
countries such as Latvia and Poland also need to do more in
terms of putting the relevant infrastructure in place,
organising collections and making sure that good quality glass
According to FEVE statistics for 2013, the countries with
the highest rates of recycling container glass are Denmark at
98%; Sweden at 97%; Switzerland at 96%; and Belgium and
Luxembourg with a rate of 95%.
The spokesperson added that while Bulgaria, Portugal and the
UK are borderline with around 60% of container glass recycled,
they still have a long way to go to hit the
commission’s proposed 75% target.
For FEVE, the objective is to recycle more glass and meet
environmental performance targets. This in turn will reduce
energy costs for the industry as recycling glass uses lower
rates of energy than using virgin raw materials.
Glass manufacturing consumes a number of industrial minerals
including soda ash, quartz, feldspar and lime. A typical batch
for clear glass containers may consist of 155kg soda ash, 172kg
limestone, 145kg feldspar and 5kg sodium sulphate. Flat glass
batches require about 115kg of soda ash per 450kg of silica
FEVE figures indicate that for every tonne of recycled
glass, 1.2m tonnes of virgin raw materials are saved in the
melting process. While recycling can substantially reduce costs
for container glass manufacturers, raw material consumption is
likely to decline as a result.
However, the FEVE spokesperson told IM:
"Recycled glass replaces virgin raw materials, but we will
always need virgin raw materials at competitive prices that are
sustainably produced. Just because we will try to meet these
[recycling] targets does not mean we won’t need
these raw materials."
With almost 30% of glass not yet recycled in the EU, more
will need to be done to see a substantial increase in
The manufacturing industry will need to work in conjunction
with national and local authorities, waste processors, EPR
schemes and consumers.
"We are ready to take on this challenge and our share of
responsibility in the supply chain. We are working with
recyclers, collectors and also addressing consumers to make
them aware of the benefits of glass recycling," the FEVE
spokesperson told IM. "We will also need to
increase efforts in these countries [where recycling is low]
and make sure that effective infrastructure is in place. We
also need to encourage authorities to do more."
Circular Economy package
The EC’s action plan on the Circular Economy
aims to tackle the entire lifecycle of various products through
the management of production, consumption, waste and secondary
raw material markets.
The plan will also target market barriers in sectors such as
plastics, food waste, critical raw materials, construction and
demolition, biomass and bio-based products.
According to the EC, waste prevention and re-use could
create net savings of €600bn ($635.4bn*) in the EU, while
reducing greenhouse gasses by 2-4% annually.
At the production stage, the commission plans to provide
guidance on waste management and resource efficiency in
industry sectors; issue guidance and promote best practices on
mining waste to improve raw materials recovery; and clarify
rules on byproducts in its revised proposals on waste to create
a level playing field across the EU.
"In addition to the regulatory action already taken by the
commission – on illegal logging, extraction of
minerals from conflict zones or corporate transparency on
payments made to governments by extractive and logging
industries – we will continue to promote sustainably
sourcing in policy dialogues and partnerships with non-EU
countries and through EU trade and development policy," the EC
outlined in its package.
With around 600m tonnes of materials lost in waste each
year, the EC has set a common EU target for recycling 65% of
municipal waste in addition to its common EU target for
recycling 75% of packaging waste by 2030.
The commission is also targeting the plastic industry, which
is a large consumer of industrial minerals such as talc,
titanium dioxide (TiO2), halloysite, kaolin, calcium
carbonate, wollastonite and limestone.
Currently, less than 25% of plastic waste is collected and
recycled, according to the EC, while around 50% goes into
In order to facilitate changes in the plastics industry, the
EC plans to address issues such as recyclability,
biodegradability, the presence of hazardous substances and
marine litter. It also plans to propose a more ambition target
for plastic recycling in the revised legislative proposal on
*Conversion made December 2015