Circular economy: from targets to reality


The European Container Glass Federation (FEVE) has published the industry’s position on the European Commission’s Circular Economy Package – calling for mandatory separate collection schemes, targets focused on recycling, and acknowledgement of the superior value of permanent materials.


The paper signals the industry’s strong 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.


Because glass is endlessly recyclable, the glass packaging industry has long practiced the principles of the circular economy. For more than 40 years the industry has built partnerships to collect end-of-life glass containers to 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 on average collected for recycling in the EU; about 90% of that 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 Circular Economy Package from Brussels proposes new recycling targets of 75% by 2025 and 85% by 2030. But, FEVE says, 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 locally focussed ones or those functioning in closed circuits. This would create barriers to the free movement of goods in the internal market.


Vitaliano Torno concludes:

“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. Glass is a permanent material… endlessly recyclable without any degradation. This allows for important raw material and energy savings with major benefits for the environment and the economy.”


For FEVE, an ambitious circular economy policy means investing in recycling infrastructure throughout the EU, where there are important opportunities for job creation in recycling and further manufacturing of glass. FEVE will be taking this discussion forward with the European Commission, Member States and Members of the European Parliament to ensure a legislative and policy environment that maintains Europe’s leading position for glass production and recycling, in the context of increasingly competitive global markets.


Rebecca Cocking, British Glass head of Container Affairs, said:


“British Glass supports the position FEVE have taken. The March budget announced a UK glass recycling target of 70% of glass to be recycled by 2020, so we’re on the same track. However 85% by 2030 means an increased pace of improvement – at the point we’ll be looking at the most difficult glass waste to collect and sort. It really is a very ambitious target. Glass manufacturers want more glass to re-melt so of course we’re eager to see this happen. But it will certainly take the concerted and collaborative effort of all stakeholders: across government, local authorities, manufacturers, retailers and householders.” 


The Squaring the circular economy workshop at Glass Focus 2016 will bring together key players from across the UK glass industry supply chain to explore just how this can happen.


Register for Glass Focus 2016




FEVE is the Federation of European manufacturers of glass containers and machine-made glass tableware. Its members produce over 20 million tonnes of glass per year.  The association has some 60 corporate members belonging to approximately 20 independent corporate groups.  Several British Glass members are represented by FEVE and the two organizations work closely together.

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The European container glass industry provides a wide range of glass packaging products for food and beverages as well flacons for perfumery, cosmetics and pharmacy to their European and world customers. With its 160 manufacturing plants distributed all over Europe. It is an important contributor to Europe’s real economy and provides employment to about 50,000 people, while creating a large number of job opportunities along the total supply chain. 


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On average, every family in
the UK uses around 330 glass
bottles and jars each year.

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