Study quantifies potential benefits of glass recycling

News Item
12 Sep 2016

An independent study has found that the benefits of glass as a sustainable construction product are not being fully realised during the demolition of buildings in Europe.

Issued in April, ‘Economic study on recycling of building glass in Europe’ quantifies building glass waste in the EU, identifies best practices and pilot projects in the field of building glass waste and presents the economic costs and benefits.

Glass is a sustainable material, as it can be recycled an infinite number of times. In fact, recycled glass, known as cullet, is a valuable raw material in the manufacturing process. It replaces virgin raw materials, does not decompose to emit CO2, melts at a lower temperature than other raw materials, thereby saving energy, and diverts waste from landfill. Even when the cullet is not suitable for the float glass manufacturing process, it can be used for other glass making processes in the container or fibre glass industries. It can even be mixed with aggregates for road coverings.

Glass for Europe, the European trade association of flat glass manufacturers, commissioned Deloitte Sustainability to undertake an analysis of the current situation and provide insight into the realities of end-of-life building glass.

Some findings from the study include:

  • total glass waste from renovation and demolition of buildings in the EU in 2013 was around 1.5 million tonnes
  • recycling of all building glass could avoid 925,000 tonnes of landfilled waste every year
  • environmental and economic benefits of glass recycling are substantially influenced by transport distances and recycling infrastructure

The full report can be downloaded from the Glass for Europe website.