According to the latest glass recycling estimates published by the European Container Glass Federation, FEVE, more than 67% of glass bottles and jars were collected for recycling in the European Union in 2009.

The figure released by FEVE, one year ahead of the official Eurostat data, equates to approximately 11 million tonnes of glass or 25 million glass bottles and jars, indicating a steady positive trend since 2008 when the figure was 66%.

“Glass recycling increases each year thanks to the commitment of consumers everywhere,” said Niall Wall, President of FEVE. “Our industry is able to turn this waste in to a valuable resource to make new bottles and jars, because glass by nature is 100% recyclable,” he added.

The recyclability of glass puts the material at the centre stage in the strategy of the European Commission to make the European Union a ‘circular economy’, whereby recycling is the key factor to waste reduction and waste is considered a valuable resource (see

Linda McAvan, Member of the European Parliament for Yorkshire and the Humber, UK, said: “I believe strongly in moves to make Europe more resource-efficient. EU Directives set out a requirement to increase recycling rates as they will help to reduce demand for primary raw materials, to reuse valuable materials which would otherwise end up as waste, and to reduce energy consumption. This is fundamental to build a solid, resource-efficient economy.”

These goals can be met only where materials can be reused in valuable schemes or can be recycled in closed loop systems, such as for glass bottles. Materials that are down-cycled for a different use than the original item are ejected from the closed loop system and are often ultimately generating waste destined for incineration or landfill.

The European Commission highlights the importance of reviewing and improving best practices in collection and treatment of key waste streams in its forthcoming review of ‘The Thematic Strategy on Waste Prevention and Recycling’ (see which, it hopes, will help Europe achieve the long-term goal of a recycling society.