At present, only about 20 percent of the glass in South Africa is recycled. Half of this is industrial glass, all of which is collected, and half is domestic, 80 percent of which is left lying in landfill sites.
Arnold said last Thursday that the R55 million industry did not benefit Consol commercially but that costs and savings balanced each other out. In the UK, 40 percent of glass was recycled, while central Europe had achieved a level of between 60 percent and 80 percent.
"South Africa needs to get up there with the best of them."
Consol had just spent R14 million on equipment that sorts glass by colour and identifies contaminants.
"This is important as contaminants can cause major defects, possibly causing glass containers to explode under pressure," he said. "Collecting companies now don't have to worry going through this arduous process, which can make huge inroads into their profitability."
Consol aims to educate consumers about recycling waste glass as part of its business strategy to deliver on world-class recycling industry standards
Arnold said recycling was a growing industry. It was either enforced by legislation in First World countries or encouraged by economics in the developing world.
"We aim to have 50 percent of glass returned to our plants for recycling as it is infinitely recyclable," he said.
Plastic can also be recycled but the process is much more difficult as only a limited amount can be included in the raw material master batch.
Under its community service investment programme, Consol also spends more than R700 000 a year on developing waste buy-back centres in previously disadvantaged communities. Arnold said that by increasing the level of recycling from 20 to 40 percent, the number of jobs created by the industry could be doubled.
"The challenge will be getting the infrastructure right. This will include developing centres and transporting waste glass from remote areas to the manufacturing facilities, which will be part of our future strategy," he said.
As a start, a glass recycling forum has been informally established. This includes the recycling industry, glass manufacturers, bottlers, labour and consumer organisations.