Schott has launched two pilot projects to recycle glass-ceramics and speciality glass into new products.

The first project will see Schott set up a new recycling cycle with pilot customers and partners from the waste management industry to recycle glass-ceramic from used cooktops.

Glass-ceramic from old household appliances or broken glass-ceramic from assembly, freed from electronics and housings, will be delivered to Schott.

Once a sufficient quantity of material has been collected, technical tests will follow to prove that the recycled material can be integrated into new glass-ceramic cooktops without compromising quality.

Glass Tubing

The other pilot project will concern the glass tubing produced for pharmaceutical packaging.

A major healthcare company will return its unused vials for medicines to Schott.

As cullet, these can then be fed back into the glass melt to supplement the raw materials from which new, high-quality glass tubing is produced.

These can then be reprocessed into pharmaceutical vials that meet quality standards.

Even though glass is generally quite easy to recycle, there are several technical challenges when recycling glass-ceramics and speciality glass.

Firstly, they have higher quality requirements than container or flat glass, such as bottles or windows, and they must be melted at higher temperatures.

In addition, the absorption of recycled material and the evaluation of the quality needs to be researched further.

Besides the technical challenges, it is primarily the lack of a legal framework that stands in the way of a circular economy.

Until now, there have been no special regulations that allow speciality glass to be collected by type.

In Germany and at the EU level, for example, there are still no legal requirements for the separate collection of speciality glass.

According to Schott’s calculations, around three million glass-ceramic cooktop panels and thus 10,000 tons of glass-ceramic will end up in landfill in Germany in 2030 alone.

Dr Jörn Besinger, who co-ordinates the international technology of the Schott’s circular projects, said: “In order to make progress in the circular economy, we are currently examining which product groups are worth setting up recycling systems for.

“To this end, we are inviting our customers to develop product-specific solutions together with us. We thus want to gradually increase the share of recycled raw materials in our industry.”