Mon, 15 April 2024

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The data is clear – a Deposit Return Scheme that includes glass will put two million more tonnes of CO2 into our atmosphere and collect less glass than an improved kerbside scheme

Phil Fenton

Phil Fenton | British Glass

3 min read Partner content

Creating a circular economy for glass is crucial to achieving our environmental goals. The data points to one stand-out solution that can play a pivotal role in driving that change - improved kerbside recycling schemes.

A new, independent report has confirmed yet again what the glass industry has been saying all along - that recycling glass packaging through an improved, consistent kerbside scheme already planned for 2023 is better for the environment than a deposit return scheme, saving over two million tonnes more CO₂ by 2035 as well as achieving a higher collection rate of 90%.

While a deposit return scheme (DRS) works for some packaging materials like plastic bottles and aluminium cans, the findings of this report published by the consulting team at Reconomy Group company, Valpak for British Glass show the best solution for collecting and, importantly, recycling glass packaging is to collect all glass packaging at the kerbside through extended producer responsibility (EPR) and an improved, consistent kerbside collection programme - not through a DRS.

Why? Well for a start it will deliver 11% more carbon savings than including glass in a DRS. It would reach a collection rate of close to 90% of all glass packaging placed on the market across both drinks containers and all other types of glass packaging. This exceeds a DRS which anticipates a collection rate of just 85% but is limited to drinks containers only.

That is important because as the Government’s own data suggests, implementing a DRS for glass drinks bottles is likely to reduce the collection rate at the kerbside for the remaining glass food packaging, such as jam jars and condiment bottles, that make up nearly a third of all glass packaging.

We must not end up in a perverse situation where we have a green policy that is actually worse for the environment

The industry has long been calling on Government to exclude glass from a DRS because we firmly believe that to create the best recycling system for glass packaging, one that is best for the environment, glass must remain as part of EPR, not a DRS. Indeed, as an industry we are asking for more obligated targets, not fewer, to drive forward more bottle-to-bottle recycling.

We must not end up in a perverse situation where we have a green policy that is actually worse for the environment and a system that would split glass food and beverage packaging into two waste streams, to the detriment of both. Not only would this reduce the amount and the quality of recycled material available to be used again in new glass containers bottles, but it would also, as international evidence has shown, lead to more plastic packaging on the market.

We already have a convenient solution to improving glass recycling, and it’s at our doorsteps. How many people are really going to queue in supermarkets with bags of glass to return and recycle it, when they could just use an improved doorstep collection scheme?

The British public are already great at recycling their glass at home so instead of including glass packaging in a damaging and complex DRS, we want to see more glass recycled through an improved kerbside scheme under extended producer responsibility and consistent collections – achieving a 90% recycling rate. Only this will create a truly circular economy for glass packaging.

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