WRAP research looks into "closed loop" glass recycling potential

The potential for more ‘closed loop’ recycling of glass containers is being explored as a result of new research published this week.

The research, funded by WRAP, the Waste & Resources Action Programme, addresses the imbalance between the colour mix of waste glass collected and the colours produced by the UK container industry.At present, about half of the collected glass is green but the demand from UK food and drinks manufacturers is mainly for clear glass.

Under the Packaging Waste Directive, 60% of glass packaging waste must be recycled by 2008, but there could be a surplus of over 400,000 tonnes of green glass that is collected with little demand for it in the container industry.

Carried out by the University of Sheffield and British Glass, the £48,000 research study looked into the feasibility of neutralising colour in the clear glass furnace. Focusing on the six most promising techniques, the work involved a worldwide literature survey and a series of laboratory-scale trials.

Dr Nick Kirk, project manager, said: “This project is a good example of WRAP’s approach to developing ‘closed loop’ recycling into new glass containers in addition to its new market development work.”

Following publication of the report, discussions are being held with the glass container manufacturing industry to examine the findings and establish how this research can be taken forward.

“The container glass industry is already delivering 80% of glass recycling in the UK, but increasing the level of closed loop recycling even further is essential if we are to meet our 2008 targets,” explains Andy Dawe, WRAP’s material sector manager for glass.

“This project has provided a basis for further collaboration with the industry to examine the commercial viability of a number of promising techniques,” he added.

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