News, 30.10.2019

Record collection of glass containers for recycling hits 76% in the EU

In 2017, the impressive collection for recycling rate of 76% rose by 1% compared to the previous year, demonstrating the excellent performance of the EU-wide circular economy in glass packaging. However, more needs to be done to bring the remaining 24% of glass back into the loop.

Brussels and Bülach, 30 October 2019

Latest industry data – published by the European Container Glass Federation (FEVE) – show that the average collection for recycling rate for glass packaging rose to a record 76% in 2017 (1). Most of the 30 billion containers collected go back into the production flow of one of the 160 glassworks across Europe, ensuring an authentic and highly effective circular economy in the glass packaging manufacturing industry.

Used glass is the most important resource for bottle-to-bottle recycling. It results in major environmental, social and economic benefits for the value chain, for our customers and for the end consumer. Glass recycling enables the container glass industry to dramatically reduce its environmental footprint by saving energy and raw materials, and helps to maintain 125,000 local jobs in the EU and thus to stabilise the European labour market. More than 70% of raw materials travel less than 300 km on their journey to the glass plants, and the plants deliver more than half of their products within a 300 km radius.

However, the 76% collection for recycling rate is merely the average across Europe and masks quite a diverse situation. The top performers are Sweden, Belgium, Denmark, Austria, Slovenia and Switzerland with over 90% glass collection rates, closely followed by other high achievers like Germany, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands and Luxembourg with rates of over 80%. More needs to be done, however, in countries like Poland, the United Kingdom, Romania, Bulgaria, Greece, Hungary and Portugal, where there is still potential for growth. Each country will need its own focused and tailored strategy to ensure more and better recycling.

It is particularly pleasing to see that the countries where Vetropack operates glassworks are among those with the highest glass collection rates. Indeed, Switzerland, Austria and Italy occupy top positions, followed by the Czech Republic and Slovakia. Although Croatia scores below the European average, it still manages a collection for recycling rate of 51%. Given the numerous recycling activities of the Vetropack companies, the collection for recycling rates are set to rise further over the next few years, particularly in countries that still fail to make the top spots. 

(1) See FEVE Recycling Statistics 2017 published on the FEVE website: www.feve.org