According to the European Glass Container Federation (FEVE) the European glass container sector is a prime example of a well-functioning circular economy.
FEVE says it is reducing its environmental footprint thanks to effective bottle-to-bottle closed loop recycling.
This is what allows the sector to collect seven out of every 10 bottles for recycling – meaning one tonne of recycled glass saves 1.2 tonnes of virgin raw materials and cuts carbon emissions by 60%, according to the Federation.
It has produced an infographic, demonstrating how the sector achieves a closed loop process in seven steps. (See below)
Adeline Farrelly, FEVE – “Closed loop recycling decouples the demand for resources against much needed growth in Europe. This is a major opportunity for the European economy to get out of deep water”
The container glass sector in Europe brings value to Europe’s social, environmental and economic welfare, according to findings from an Ernst & Young study commissioned by FEVE last year.
The E&Y study points out the environmental credentials of the industry due to the inherent properties of glass, but also underscores the fact that bottle-bottle recycling can deliver a true circular economy.
“Industries that help further a circular economy should be supported,” commented Seb Dance, Member of the European Parliament with the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats, at the dinner debate Essentials of a European Circular Economy where the study was presented last night.
“In times of sluggish economic growth, we need to encourage long-term and sustainable business models that are able to turn waste into reusable resources and by doing so support the creation of stable, local jobs in the EU,” he said.
“Closed loop bottle to bottle recycling is key to making the Circular Economy real,” commented Adeline Farrelly, Secretary General of FEVE – “Closed loop recycling decouples the demand for resources against much needed growth in Europe. This is a major opportunity for the European economy to get out of deep water.”
Circular Economy Package
The container glass industry, NGOs and several groups in the European Parliament are calling on the European Commission to ensure that the Circular Economy Package remains on the EU agenda – as it is an important tool to reconcile Europe’s environmental objectives with economic growth.
The circular economy package included a 70% recycling or reuse target for municipal waste by 2030, and to ban recyclable materials such as plastics, paper, metals, glass and biodegradable waste to landfill by 2025.
The EU’s waste package, however, was dropped at the end of last year, to be replaced with a more “ambitious proposal” by the end of 2015.
The capital intensive container glass sector says it is a fundamental part of Europe’s packaging sector and has a longstanding contribution to Europe’s heritage.
Annually, it invests up to €610m to innovate and maintain a network for 155 plants across the EU. This equals 10% of the industry’s operational costs every year.
The industry contributes €9.5bn yearly to the EU GDP, and has a positive impact on Europe’s trade balance of €21bn for products primarily packed in glass.
Some 125,000 direct and indirect jobs are maintained by the sector supporting a wide range of other industries in local regions as glass plants deliver more than half of their products within 300km and more than 70% of raw materials travel less than 300km.