Close the Glass Loop, the ambitious campaign to push glass recycling to new heights in the European Union, officially launched during the week of June 28-July 4.
The initiative is groundbreaking in the sense that stakeholders from across the glass packaging ecosystem have pledged their support in order to work together toward the goal of a 90% glass collection rate across the EU by 2030.
Glass is infinitely recyclable and a perfect material for creating a waste-eliminating circular economy.
When glass manufacturers like O-I use more recycled glass (called “cullet”) in the mixture to create new glass, the fewer natural resources are consumed. When more cullet is used, the manufacturing process also requires less energy and creates fewer CO2 emissions.
The Close the Glass Loop initiative brings together businesses and organizations across the European glass landscape, from manufacturers to processors, brands, municipalities and packaging recovery operations.
“The success the EU sees in recycling glass and this amazing partnership shows the valuable role glass plays in the sustainability ecosystem,” said Randy Burns, chief sustainability officer at O-I Glass, Inc. “O-I Glass is proud to participate in this important work and looks forward to helping close the loop.”
Glass is Europe’s most recycled food and beverage packaging material and the EU currently has a strong 76% glass collection rate.
Burns said the US can look to the EU as proof that recycling infrastructure can thrive when it has support.
“Europe’s success should put to rest the myth in the U.S. that recycling is ‘just too hard.’ It’s time to stop making excuses," he said. "The U.S. has a responsibility to get recycling right and can learn from collaborations like Close the Glass Loop."
The Close the Glass Loop action plan makes structural recommendations that address current glass recycling challenges in the EU.
Among the plans is to work closely with municipalities to expand source-separated glass collection and improve glass collection in large and tourist-heavy areas.