Contrary to popular believe it’s been consistently proven impossible or practical for ALL glass to be recycled endlessly in a closed loop cycle as is often claimed. Annually more than 200 million tonnes of glass is produced globally, less than 40% is re-used for new glass production (Remelt or glass wool) due to limited furnace capacity, quality, colour disparity, location, and economics, as a result this material ends up in landfill as daily cover or used as a low value aggregate substitute. Economics has always been a challenge for the recycling industry, balancing high cost of recovery and processing with proportionally low cullet value.
Arguably a greater challenge is the long chain CO2 cost of delivering glass to a furnace, in many cases the true cost of CO2 is not appreciated or understood, claimed CO2 benefit of using cullet does not account for its recovery, recycling, transport, nor the disposal to landfill of the glass not suitable for Remelt.
We will look at the long chain CO2 cost of the current glass recycling system and how innovation and progressive thinking is developing a clearer strategy for glass recycling, one focused on low CO2 solutions and maximising glass recovery, recycling and reuse. A system based on glass location, type, quality and market options, while understanding the complexities and market dynamics, will establish a fair and logical approach for improving cullet quality and quantity, and therefore increase revenue and investment opportunities of glass historically landfilled or used in low value markets.