Ceramic Industry

GLASS WORKS: Stepping Up "Green" Credentials

May 1, 2011

According to a recent report entitled Green Packaging from The Freedonia Group Inc., U.S. demand for recycled content, reusable and biodegradable packaging is projected to exceed $42 billion by 2014. The report also asserts that demand for glass recycled-content packaging will outpace the green packaging average as a result of rising recycling rates for glass containers and concerted efforts by glass packagers to increase collection and incorporate higher levels of recycled content in glass containers.

Broadcasting the Glass Recycling Message

Glass manufacturers are focusing their efforts on increasing glass recycling and incorporating more recycled glass, or cullet, in the glass containers they produce-and they're starting to see a little payoff. Glass recycling stood at 28% in 2008. Data released in early 2011 from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) now show that all glass container recycling jumped to 31.1% in 2009. New data also show that 39% of glass beer and soft drink bottles were recycled, 18.1% of wine and liquor bottles, and nearly 18% of other glass bottles and jars.

In further support of pushing out the environmental message about glass recycling to consumers, the Glass Packaging Institute (GPI) this year partnered as a sponsor with Earth911, the country's leading clearinghouse for recycling information. Consumers across the U.S. turn to www.earth911.com for information about where to recycle locally, guidance on how to recycle and the latest on recycling issues. The partnership allows the GPI to provide custom content on the "Glass Section" landing page (www.earth911.org/recycling/glass), as well as regular communications with Earth911 readers through timely stories and news.

O-I Focuses on High-Quality Glass Recycling in its Own Backyard

Glass manufacturers are creating their own partnerships to boost glass recycling so they can use more high-quality recycled glass in new container production. In late 2010, glass manufacturer Owens-Illinois, Inc. (O-I), headquartered in Perrysburg, Ohio, partnered with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources and Rumpke Recycling to build enhanced technology to process recycled glass.

Rumpke Recycling is investing $2.5 million in new machinery at its Dayton, Ohio, materials recovery facility to more effectively and economically process glass collected through its residential and commercial recycling programs. The new system will create more and higher quality product suitable for the manufacture of new glass bottles.

Verallia Boosts Recycled Content in Wine Bottles

In south Seattle, Wash., a joint initiative between Verallia, the nation's largest manufacturer of wine bottles, and eCullet, a developer of state-of-the-art camera sorting technology for processing recycled glass, is helping to produce new glass containers made with almost triple the amount of recycled glass-increasing the recycled content from 17% to nearly 50%-with the potential to increase more in the future.

In 2010, eCullet produced more than 65,000 tons of furnace-ready cullet for Verallia to make new glass bottles using over 80,000 tons of recycled glass. The recovered glass is sourced through single-stream curbside collection programs in Seattle and from material coming out of the bottle deposit program in Vancouver, British Columbia.

An independent facility, eCullet is located on space leased from Verallia near its manufacturing plant. As a result, the time between when the cullet is produced and when it can be introduced into the batch is 3-5 min, which makes for an exceptional carbon footprint. Verallia's plant is also seeing substantial reductions in energy and energy costs. For every 10% of cullet used, the company is able to reduce energy costs by 4%. In addition, using 10% more recycled glass has led to decreases in nitrogen oxide, a greenhouse gas, and reductions in raw materials.

Green Pastures Ahead

Initiatives such as these are just the start of what the GPI and its member companies are working on to bring an even greener glass package to consumers-and to make manufacturing processes more energy efficient. We hope that consumers will join us and choose to recycle their glass bottles and jars.

As Earth911 President Corey Lambrecht says, "Recycling is one of the most accessible, sustainable actions that the everyday person can take." The goal is to make taking that action just a little easier and ensure that when a consumer recycles their glass bottle, it is going right back into a new glass bottle.

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