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Demand for cullet from both the glassmaking industry and aggregates businesses has grown over the past few years with new glass processing plants opening and alternative markets developing.
Most local authorities now include glass as part of their kerbside recycling collections and this method accounts for 55% of glass collected for recycling. However, there is a lack of consensus over the most viable collection method to achieve the highest quality material.
Kerbside collections are increasing the amount of cullet in the marketplace, but the material collected is often mixed glass, rather than the colour-sorted material provided by bring banks.
UK glass manufacturers prize clear glass most highly because, while most glass made in the UK is clear, by far the largest proportion of the glass waste stream is green. For this reason green is prized the least. Completely mixed glass cannot be used in the container re-melt industry, where colour purity is vital, and must instead go to alternative uses.
This has led to controversy within the industry over the usefulness of mixed collections. However, as glassmakers are starting to use colour-sorting equipment, colour contamination of separately-collected colours is becoming less of a problem.
According to a Waste & Resources Action Programme market situation report published in October 2008, there was 1.5 million tonnes of glass collected for recycling in the 12 months to June 2008.
Despite increasing competition from alternative glass markets such as aggregates, energy costs and limits on carbon emissions are leading container manufacturers to do everything in their power to use more recycled cullet.
But although many glassmakers would argue container manufacture is the best use of cullet, as glass can be re-melted countless times, alternative uses such as grit blasting, use in road surfaces and water filtration will become increasingly important in ensuring end-markets. In 2008, about 550,000 tonnes of recycled glass went into alternative markets.
The export market is important for glass, with the multinational nature of some of the major glass companies meaning that a large amount of glass is exported to mainland Europe. Spain, Italy and Portugal are the main recipients of exported UK glass, which is then used to create wine bottles.
Despite increases in collection, revised packaging recovery targets announced by Defra in early 2008 mean that the amount of cullet glass recovered might need to reach 1.8 million tonnes-per-year by 2010.
Companies such as beverage giant Coca-Cola have also made moves to improve their environmental credentials, through measures such as reducing the weight of its iconic ‘Contour’ glass bottle by 20%.
Glass Prices 2014
Glass Prices 2014
|Brown||23 - 35||22 - 34||22 - 30|
|Clear||20 - 40||20 - 38||20 - 36|
|Green||15 - 25||15 - 24||15 - 24|
|Mixed||5 - 25||4 - 23||2 - 24|