The average glass recycling rate in the EU28 zone has reached the 74% threshold for the first time.

According to figures from the European Container Glass Federation (FEVE), this means more than 11.6 million tons were collected throughout the European Union in 2014 or 3.5% more than in the previous year.

The majority of that goes back into making new packaging: glass stands alone as the most closed loop recycled food and drink packaging in the EU and in the world, said FEVE.

However, some 26% of glass bottles and jars are still lost in landfills in Europe today, and year to year comparison of national data reveals a multi-faceted landscape. Countries such as Sweden, Belgium, Germany or Slovenia continue to outperform.

Other good performing countries like Austria or Denmark have recorded a slight decrease in recycling despite a positive consumption trend. In the Czech Republic, Finland or The Netherlands the downward trend was on par with shrinking consumption. In Spain or Bulgaria, glass recycling is steadily increasing but there is a quite important gap to fill. The gap is even more important in Romania, Cyprus, Slovak Republic or Greece.

Adeline Farrelly, FEVE Secretary General said: “Data show the situation varies from country to country and confirms the need for targeted investments in infrastructure and communication to citizens, not only in countries where there are important gaps to fill, but also to maintain the high standards of the traditionally good performing countries.

The industry is calling for a supporting legislative environment that acknowledges the superior status of materials that can be infinitely recycled without loss of properties and can remain safe for human health and the environment. Such materials permanently keep their qualities. Glass packaging is such a permanent material and shares this characteristic with other materials like metals.

“The EU waste legislation currently under review in the EU Circular Economy Package should incentivize permanent materials that can be infinitely recycled without losing their properties”, says Adeline Farrelly.

“As an industry, we would like to have more recycled glass, provided that it is of high quality and is economically viable. We believe that acknowledging the superior status of permanent materials in, for example EPR schemes, will incentivize the market to use permanent materials that can deliver real closed loop recycling.”