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Glass industry calls for return to bottle banks

Post Time:Jun 17,2008Classify:Industry NewsView:411

British Glass has called for local authorities to move away from commingled collections and return to providing bottle banks, in the wake of figures revealing that the amount of recycled glass sent for reprocessing into containers fell in 2007.

Figures published by Defra indicate that, while the total amount of glass recycled increased from 1,256,408 tonnes in 2006 to 1,437,539 tonnes in 2007, the amount of that glass which was then used in container production fell from 751,845 tonnes to 696,028 tonnes.


British Glass advocates the use of bottle banks to boost the amount of cullet available to UK glass container manufacturers

British Glass advocates the use of bottle banks to boost the amount of cullet available to UK glass container manufacturers

And, British Glass has pointed to a combination of councils' increasing use of commingled kerbside collections instead of bottle banks, and the use of Materials Recycling Facilities (MRFs) to then sort those collections, as the reasons for the decline in cullet available for closed loop recycling into containers.


Commenting on the growing number of councils collecting glass through commingled collections, British Glass recycling manager Rebecca Cocking acknowledged the effect of recycling targets on councils' approach, but questioned the longer-term impact of their decisions.

"We understand where local authorities are coming from," she told letsrecycle.com. "But there has to be some sort of legislative intervention, and then from a local authority point of view they need to look at what they're trying to achieve - short terms gains or long-term market sustainability."


British Glass believes that using MRFs to sort commingled recyclables generally produces glass cullet that can only be used for aggregates, instead of containers, and the Defra figures reveal a significant increase in the amount of recycled glass sent for alternative uses, such as aggregates and insulation, from 351,171 tonnes on 2006 to 549,296 tonnes last year.

Glass manufacturers' opposition to using commingled collections and MRFs stems from concerns over the impact of various aspects of the process, including; glass being compacted in collection vehicles, different colours of glass being mixed, glass mixing with other materials and the potential for glass to contaminate other materials such as paper.

"A MRF is the solution in the sense that it brings more glass into recycling but less for high quality solutions," Ms Cocking said.

"Ideally our solution would be that no glass goes into MRFs, but it could still be part of kerbside collections for example you could collect glass with metals or plastics. Or the ideal world is that you go back to the bring system," she added.


The Defra figures also indicate that the amount of cullet exported for reprocessing into containers continued to increase in 2007, reaching 271,555 tonnes, compared to just 53,066 tonnes back in 2000.

However, Ms Cocking questioned the sustainability of this as an outlet for recycled glass, claiming that competition from cheaper cullet from Eastern Europe alongside the impact of packaging regulations on mainland Europe would impact on the market for cullet exported from the UK.

"It is a solution, but how sustainable are those export markets in the long-term?" she asked.

And, Ms Cocking also claimed that the possibility of UK glass producers increasing cullet prices to make them a more attractive choice to local authorities was not an option, arguing that "there isn't a huge margin to increase prices while keeping it sustainable".

Last October, Berryman, one of the UK's largest glass collection companies, revealed plans to develop a sorting plant in response to the rise of commingled collections, but insisted that the new facility was not a MRF.

Source: letsrecycle.com Author: admin

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