British Glass reiterates export fears

The trade body British Glass has again highlighted its concerns about the export of glass from the UK for recycling, calling on local authorities to “consider the destination of collected waste glass”. 

The export of recycled glass (cullet) has been a long-standing debate in the industry

British Glass highlighted data which it said shows a 31% rise in the export of glass cullet for remelt in 2022, compared to 2021.

In total, the trade body said 335,000 tonnes of “unprocessed glass waste throughout 2022” was exported under local authority waste management contracts.

British Glass has warned on several occasions that material is being exported which it says could be used by British manufacturers and is being encouraged by the PRN system.

The group said that for every tonne of recycled glass used to produce new glass bottles and jars, there is approximately a 250kg reduction in CO₂ on site. Alongside supply chain reductions, this can lead to a 580kg reduction of carbon emissions for every tonne of cullet used.


However, exporters claim that glass exported incurs the same processing costs in Europe compared to that processed in the UK (see letsrecycle.com story).

It is often also argued that much of the PRN value claimed on exports makes its way back to UK local authorities through higher prices paid for collected glass, with this added value supporting glass collection rather than to the recycling industry.

In the United Kingdom, some say there is also an imbalance between the colour of the waste glass packaging generated and what is needed for UK container glass production.

This is primarily due to the UK being a large consumer of wine, but producing very little, hence there is a limited requirement for new green glass bottles.


British Glass chief executive and chair of the Energy Intensive User Group, Dave Dalton

Dave Dalton, chief executive of British Glass, said: “There is an opportunity to make the most of high recycling rates of glass in the UK and ensure glass manufacturers have access to affordable recycled materials. We already remelt over million tonnes of recycled glass in the UK, but this additional capture would generate further energy and carbon and reduce supply chain emissions.”


The warning from British Glass arrives around nine months after a similar warning in March of this year, where the association reported that the UK glass packaging industry is “reaching crisis point” as the PRN system is encouraging the export of glass which could be used by UK industry (see letsrecycle.com story).

Mr Fenton explained to letsrecycle.com at the time that that more than two thirds of the glass being exported could have been used by UK glass manufacturers, helping to increase the recycled content of packaging and save tens of thousands of tonnes of Co2.

Share this article with others

Subscribe for free

Subscribe to receive our newsletters and to leave comments.

Back to top

Subscribe to our newsletter

Get the latest waste and recycling news straight to your inbox.