Multi-stakeholder platform connects EU glass packaging ecosystem
Glass collection and recycling stakeholders have officially launched a major material stewardship programme that connects the entire European glass packaging ecosystem to boost bottle-to-bottle recycling. The move comes as efforts to consolidate the European circular economy scale up following the adoption of the European Green Deal, the European Union’s new agenda for sustainable growth.
As a pan-European action platform, ‘Close the Glass Loop’ is a bottom-up, collaborative, public-private partnership that aims to boost glass collection rates to 90% by 2030. The initiative brings together 12 European federations representing glass manufacturers, processors, brands, packaging recovery organisations and municipalities. To ensure the local implementation of measures and tailored solutions, the European platform will be working hand-in-hand with national partners in every EU Member State.
Founding partners of the Close the Glass Loop initiative are the European Container Glass Federation (FEVE), Comité Européen des Entreprises Vins (CEEV), European Federation of Bottled Waters (EFBW), spiritsEUROPE, Soft Drinks Europe (UNESDA), Extended Producer Responsibility Alliance (EXPRA), Producer Responsibility Organisations Packaging Alliance (PROsPA, represented by CITEO), ACR+, Eurocities, Municipal Waste Europe, European Fruit Juice Association (AIJN) and the European Association of Food and Vegetable Processors (PROFEL).
At today’s online launch event, over 200 participants joined founding partners and national representatives from 11 countries – France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Portugal, Spain, the UK, Austria, Belgium, Sweden and Ireland – to officially launch the platform and sign off on the European Action Plan.
Joining the online event via video message, Virginijus Sinkevičius, European Commissioner in charge of the Environment, Fisheries and Oceans, commented: “Glass is a great example of a circular material. You are already achieving outstanding results in waste collection and recycling. But today you show that you want to do more, that you are determined to bring levels up across the EU and seek room for improvement all along the chain. I am confident that you will complete your mission and make the Close the Glass Loop platform the springboard to the higher levels of the waste hierarchy.”
The European Action Plan, presented by Michel Giannuzzi, President of FEVE at today’s launch event, aims to address structural challenges in the glass collection and recycling chain that are common to most EU countries. With municipalities seen as a key player to mobilise collection, Close the Glass Loop will establish a strong partnership with local authorities to expand source-separated glass collection, improve glass collection in large cities and tourist areas and ensure that use, collection and recycling of glass containers is better supported by common guidelines and tools, at all stages of use.
Individual action points will range from organising a municipalities roadshow and best practice workshops, to support pilot projects in densely populated or tourist destinations, develop a roadmap for cullet quality and reinforce co-operation between national stakeholders.
Setting out the Action Plan, Michel Giannuzzi (pictured), noted: “We have the advantage of working with a material that is 100% and infinitely circular by nature and already a success story in terms of sustainability. The more we recycle glass, the less we litter or rely on virgin resources, while also providing premium packaging in terms of quality preservation, health and safety. Today, 76% of glass packaging in the EU market is collected for recycling – but there is more to be done. We need to fully seize the advantages offered by glass and recycle more and better. And to this end, we need the active commitment of the whole value chain. The level of engagement in Close the Glass Loop to date lays really promising grounds for success and I am very much looking forward to the positive impact it will create over time.”
National action plans from Austria, France, Spain and Sweden were also presented, highlighting the diversity of approaches between EU Member States and emphasising the need to provide tailored action plans at local level.
At the same time, it reflects the importance of a co-ordinated approach on a European level, to exchange best practice in order to close the collection gap and improve the quality of recycled glass. More availability of good quality cullet means a more resource-efficient production process, keeping resources productive in a bottle-to-bottle manufacturing loop and providing a premium level, safe and truly recycled packaging material.