Assessing the circularity of single-use glass


In 2020, 80% of glass packaging sold in Europe was collected for recycling (FPF reported). But how do collection programs in different countries affect the amount of glass that gets collected? And how much of that collected material is effectively recycled back into packaging? On September 1, 2022, Zero Waste Europe (ZWE) published a report diving into the circularity of single-use container glass in Germany, France, the United Kingdom, and United States to find where glass gets lost, and how the regions can improve at each step of the recycling process.

For each of the countries investigated, ZWE and their research partner Eunomia used four measurements to assess circularity, (i) collection rate, the amount of glass collected versus what is sold within the country; (ii) recycling rate, how much of the collected glass is good for remelting versus glass on the market; (iii) closed-loop recycling rate, percentage that is turned into new glass packaging (the true circular recycling rate); and (iv) recycled content rate, the percentage of container glass produced in the country made of recycled glass.

Germany’s container glass recycling system is the most circular, it had the highest scores in all four measurements with 81% of container glass sold in the country collected for recycling, 79% is recycled, nearly all of which is recycled back to container glass, and 65% of glass packaging produced in the country is from recycled sources. France and the UK were roughly similar to one another in all aspects, collecting 70% and 71% respectively, though the UK recycles one-third less back into container glass. The US was noticeably the lowest with only a 44% glass collection rate and 21% closed loop recycling rate.

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Food Packaging Forum, 07-09-2022