The European Container Glass Federation (FEVE) has published the industry’s position on the European Commission’s Circular Economy Package.
The package calls for mandatory separate collection schemes, targets focused on recycling, and acknowledgement of the superior value of permanent materials.
The paper signals the industry’s commitment towards a resource-efficient Europe that ensures the availability of high quality secondary raw material for direct use in industrial production, while guaranteeing the free movement of glass packaging in the EU Internal Market.
The glass packaging industry has long practiced the principles of the circular economy. Because of its inherent properties, glass is endlessly recycled and for more than 40 years the industry has built partnerships to collect end-of-life glass containers that replace virgin raw materials in a closed loop. Glass is now amongst the most recycled food and drink packaging materials.
Today, 73% of all post-consumer glass packaging is collected for recycling on average in the EU, and about 90% of it is actually recycled into new bottles and jars. But the challenge is to collect the remaining 27% while ensuring the quality of recycled glass.
Vitaliano Torno, President of FEVE, said: “For the circular economy to function and for all Member States to meet their targets, it is fundamental that separate collection schemes become mandatory across the EU to increase the quantity as well as the quality and safety of recycled materials”.
The new recycling targets of 75% (by 2025) and 85% (by 2030) provide a good framework to support investments in separate collection schemes and recycling infrastructure.
But the targets must unambiguously focus on recycling, without any competing EU-wide targets on preparing packaging for re-use. Reusable packaging is a product that only satisfies demand from very specific markets, typically local or those functioning in closed circuits, and such targets would create barriers to the free movement of goods in the internal market.
The superior value of permanent materials for the circular economy should be better accounted for, both in the waste proposals and the Circular Economy Action Plan. “Materials that can maintain their properties during their repeated use and that can be recycled over and over again must be put at the heart of the EU circular economy,” concluded Mr Torno.