Produced in consultation with the UK glass industry and other key stakeholders, the Flat Glass Quality Protocol will provide collectors, recyclers and processors with a clear set of practices and standards designed to increase both the volume and quality of flat glass cullet being sold to manufacturers.
Compliance with the protocol will allow suppliers to assure the quality and consistency of the flat glass cullet they produce – reducing contamination, making the product more attractive to buyers and giving compliant firms an advantage over competitors who do not use the Quality Protocol.
Manufacturers of flat glass, abrasives, bricks and ceramics stand to benefit from the cost advantages inherent in using more high quality cullet - as opposed to raw materials - in their production processes. In addition, the Quality Protocol will help to reduce the estimated 500,000 tonnes of waste flat glass - mostly from the construction and demolition of buildings - sent to landfill each year; a reduction that will bring about further environmental and economic benefits.
Marcus Gover, WRAP Market Development Programme Director and joint Project Executive, said: “The introduction of the Flat Glass Quality Protocol will yield a number of environmental benefits, and help to hit the Government’s sustainability targets. An estimated 500,000 tonnes of Flat Glass currently being sent to landfill each year could be used in manufacturing. The industry experts drawn together to form the Technical Advisory Group behind this Quality Protocol take the view that if more flat glass of sufficient quality could be supplied then it would certainly be used.
“From the point of view of the glass manufacturing industry there is a strong economic case for using more cullet because of the cost benefits it offers. Re-melting cullet uses 25% less energy than making glass from raw materials, and each tonne of cullet saves around 1.2 tonnes of raw materials. In addition, even when taking collection, transport and processing costs into account, cullet can often be purchased more cheaply than the corresponding virgin materials.”
Martin Brocklehurst, the Environment Agency’s Head of Environment Protection External Programmes, said: “The Quality Protocol is a win for both the environment and business. It provides end of waste criteria, clarifies regulations for industry and is an example of our commitment to reduce the regulatory burden on businesses whose activities pose a low-risk to the environment. These organisations take their environmental responsibilities seriously, so that we can focus on high-risk industries and those who do not meet acceptable environmental standards.”
The new Quality Protocol provides a quality control procedure that can be followed to ensure that cullet from waste flat glass meets a defined quality specification and can cease to be waste. Flat glass cullet is currently classified as ‘waste’ and it only stops being waste when it is incorporated into its final use. However, when the standards and recommendations set out in the new Quality Protocol are met, the point of full recovery will be considered as being when the cullet leaves the producer’s site. This means buyers will no longer be subject to waste management controls.
The Flat Glass Quality Protocol will be published on Monday January 26th. To download a copy of the Flat Glass Quality Protocol and associated documents, visit the Environment Agency website at www.environment-agency.gov.uk.