The Glass Packaging Institute (GPI), along with beverage leaders including Diageo and New Belgium Brewing Co., and the glass processing and recycling industry, have convened a dynamic group of organizations to make glass recycling work in the United States. The nearly two dozen member organizations announced that they are joining forces to create the U.S. Glass Recycling Coalition. The coalition’s primary goal is to help build a foundation to make glass recycling a successful industry, and an efficient, high-quality and convenient service consumers want and expect.
An extraordinary aspect of this coalition is the fact that it involves membership and collaboration across the entire glass supply chain. For the first time ever, organizations, including consumer brands, glass manufacturers, waste haulers, recycling processors and trade organizations involved within many of these industries, will work toward this common goal.
Glass containers for food and beverages are 100 percent recyclable, but today the U.S. recycling system faces a perfect storm of economic forces that is making it harder to recycle glass. Glass recycling can pose unique challenges on the recycling infrastructure if not planned for and executed correctly. In addition, a few municipalities have decided to remove glass from their curbside recycling programs and send it to disposal instead. This trend is not only environmentally harmful, but also serves to disengage and confuse the public on recycling.
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“The Glass Packaging Institute is excited to partner with stakeholders along the entire value chain to work together on practical and targeted solutions for returning more recycled glass back to manufacturers for new bottles and jars,” said Lynn Bragg, president of GPI. “For glass container and fiberglass manufacturers, the demand for recycled glass dramatically exceeds the supply.”
Making Glass Recycling Work Coalition members intend to work on bringing best practices to the U.S. glass recycling supply chain to increase the availability of “cullet,” the industry term for furnace-ready recycled glass that can become new bottles and jars, as well as fiberglass. For companies like Diageo and New Belgium Brewing, glass is not being recycled at a high enough rate to meet the beverage makers’ needs for recycled glass to make new bottles.
“Diageo is committed to sustainable packaging for our products, and we have significant global ambitions to increase the recycled content in our packaging,” explained Roberta Barbieri, global environmental director, Diageo. “We are keen to see an increase in glass recycling in the U.S., and so we decided to come together with our beverage industry peers and representatives from across the entire glass recycling ecosystem to begin to identify solutions.”
“At New Belgium, we are always looking at how we can honor the environment in our business decisions and recycling is a key part of that,” said Katie Wallace, New Belgium’s assistant director of sustaniability. “We know the glass recycling industry is facing significant challenges and believe that consumer-facing brands are an important part of a collaborative, nation-wide solution. We look forward to all that lies ahead and are honored to be part of this process.”
The coalition aims to help create an efficient system for glass recycling, making it a viable option for everyone. Together, the coalition will work to develop strategies to assist municipalities with glass recycling decisions and establish a network of glass recycling resources and champions. The coalition met on April 21 for an inaugural session hosted by GPI in Washington, D.C. At launch, the coalition already has the support of leading industry players. Confirmed members of the coalition include:
- Allagash Brewing Company
- Ardagh Group o Diageo (co-founder)
- Gallo Glass Company o Glass Packaging Institute (co-founder)
- Goose Island Beer Company
- Heineken USA o NAIMA (North American Insulation Manufacturing Association, Inc.)
- New Belgium Brewing (co-founder)
- National Waste and Recycling Association (NWRA)
- Pratt Industries
- The Recycling Partnership
- Resource Recycling Systems (facilitator)
- Republic Services
- Ripple Glass Making Glass Recycling Work
- Rocky Mountain Bottle Company
- Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
- Sims Municipal Recycling
- Strategic Materials, Inc.
- Waste Management
Further Reading: Q&A with Sierra Nevada’s sustainability manager Cheri Chastain
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