The glass packaging industry and local authorities have been pressed to work more closely by new Minister for the Environment Elliot Morley in a bid to stem the sharp fall in recyclate for container glass.
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 National Glass Week conference, held by British Glass, it emerged that increasing reliance by authorities on cheaper to handle mixed glass for alternative markets, such as aggregate, was diverting cullet from closed loop container manufacture.
“I wouldn’t want local authorities to increase the amount of recycling by going for mixed recycling. There is a role for aggregates in recycling but, if we don’t get the balance right, there will be a decline in white 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 made.
It argues that container glass should be a priority because its environmental benefits are reputed much greater than that of alternative cullet markets.
“I wouldn’t want local authorities to increase the amount of recycling by going for mixed recycling,” said Elliot Morley. “There is a role for aggregates in recycling but, if we don’t get the balance right, there will be a decline in white glass.”