Glass – the Perfect Recycling Material

22 May 2023
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Glass really is the perfect circular economy material, because it’s 100% and endlessly recyclable, without ever reducing its quality. If new products are made from recycled glass this reduces both CO2 emissions and energy usage. For every tonne of glass recycled, 580 kg. of CO2 emissions are prevented from entering the atmosphere. It makes a lot of sense for businesses to maximise glass recycling opportunities. 


It’s really important that glass is kept out of landfill because it doesn’t naturally break down over time. The UK glass sector has a recycling rate of 74.2%, which is one of the highest rates of any packaging material, but there’s still more to be done. British Glass, the body which represents the UK glass industry, says it wants to get this rate up to 90% by 2030. Responsible businesses can play a key role in supporting this objective. 

Glass is everywhere!

Glass is ubiquitous. It’s a crucial raw material in the electronics, chemical and automobile industries and across the construction sector. It’s to be found in buildings (windowpanes, facades, conservatories), appliances, electronics (oven doors, TVs, computer screens, smart phones), furniture (mirrors, partitions, balustrades, tables, shelves, lighting) and tableware.  

Around 55% of UK glass is collected via commingled collection (I.e., all paper, plastics and glass for recycling are put in one bin and not separated before collection). This results in less cullet returning into glass manufacturing compared with countries which have mainly adopted a separate collection system. (Cullet is waste glass which has been reprocessed ready for recycling). Therefore, simply providing separate glass recycling bins in your workplace will help to increase cullet volumes. 

UK regulations on glass recycling

UK businesses have a legal responsibility to minimise waste as much as possible. Glass is one of the recyclable materials, along with paper and plastic, which must be separated from other waste by using indoor or outdoor recycling bins. Failure to comply with Duty of Care laws can result in an unlimited fine, and you can be prosecuted. 

Waste remains the responsibility of the business until it has been collected. Enforcement of the regulations is undertaken by the Environment Agency. 

How can businesses increase their glass recycling?

Here are some of the actions that businesses can take to increase their glass recycling: 

Quick Wins
Provide glass recycling bins with clear signage. Educate employees about the benefits of glass recycling and the negative impact of landfill waste.
Provide incentives for employees who recycle glass, such as gift cards, paid time off or recognition awards. Promote the benefits of glass recycling to customers, including the positive impact on the environment and the reduction of waste in landfills.
More Effort Wins
Partner with recycling companies (like Zest!) to improve internal processes, aligning with a circular economy Use recyclable packing materials for products and encourage customers to recycle the glass containers.

Talk to the Zest Recycle team

At Zest Recycle we work with companies at every point in the life cycle of glass products to increase recycling. Why not StartFresh and talk to us today about your glass recycling requirements? 

Businesses of all types can benefit from working with recycling and waste management professionals. At Zest Recycle we deliver tailored resource management solutions which focus on industry best practice and ensure that our clients are environmental leaders in their sector. 

If you need our support or advice on any glass recycling or waste management initiatives, including waste audits, we’re just a phone call away. Please contact us. 

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