In his first public speech since becoming the new minister for the environment, Elliot Morley urged the glass packaging industry and local authorities to work closer together, as it was revealed that the amount of glass being recycled back into container glass has fallen sharply.
New British Glass figures show that the level of recycled glass being made into containers dropped last year by 50 000 tonnes. In 2002, 537 000 tonnes of glass cullet was used to make new containers, compared to 587 000 in 2001. Overall glass recycling figures for 2002 supplied by Defra show a drop of 0.5% to 32.5% from 33% in 2001.
At the annual National Glass Week conference, held by British Glass, it emerged that increasing reliance by local authorities on cheaper to handle mixed glass for alternative markets, such as aggregate, was diverting cullet from ‘closed loop’ container manufacture.
“It does appear that very little more glass is being recycled but more and more glass is going into other markets, aggregates in particular.”
David Workman, director general British Glass
The industry supports the use of alternative markets for mixed glass, particularly green glass that represents 50% of cullet but only 16% of containers produced. But it argues that container glass should be a priority because its environmental benefits are said to be 50 times greater than that of alternative cullet markets.
David Workman, director general of British Glass, said: “It does appear that very little more glass is being recycled but more and more glass is going into other markets, aggregates in particular. So we have two issues, one is to increase the overall rate of recycling and the other is to make sure that a significant proportion of that comes back to us as an industry.”