Glassed Off

We've all seen bottle banks, and some of us even use them, but did you know that the disposal of flat glass from properties is reaching epidemic proportions?..

Rapidly filling landfills and recent alterations to regulations concerning landfills have served to concentrate minds on what would doubtless be termed 'the glass mountain' were the problem on the continent.

Some half a million tonnes of flat glass waste is produced in Britain each year. 180,000 tonnes of this is deemed architectural and automotive process glass scrap and this is duly recycled.

The rest, termed post-consumer window glass - the stuff you and I look through out of our windows at home - sees very little recycling and the domestic replacement window industry is growing and adding to a rising tide in flat glass waste.

This replacement industry is now worth around £1.8bn a year. It consumes about 6.6m windows every year which produce in turn 60,000 skips of rubbish, of which 90,000 tonnes is glass and 100,000 tonnes associated waste.

To combat this ever-growing problem two bodies have joined forces and launched pilot schemes. This is the Building Research Establishment (BRE) working with the Government's not-for-profit company Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP).

First step is five trials across the country seeing which method of disposal is best suited to recycling glass and finding post-consumer markets for what is still a working product. The end product is to create a 'Good Practice Toolkit' which will set down methodologies for the collection, process and reprocessing of flat glass.

The five methods now on trial are i) employees removing the windows and taking it to a central depot, ii) contractors removing windows and taking them to a central depot, iii) major contractors taking out the windows on site and transferring the waste, iv) the window companies remove the waste and transfers it and v) the window companies remove the glass and puts it into dedicated skips.

The trials, slated to last until September, will be punctuated by three workshop sessions to review progress or lack of for each method and a final one day conference will look to discuss what was gleaned from the trials.

A host of glass and building firms will partner BRE and WRAP to test the efficacy of each system over the next few months.

600450 Glassed Off

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