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Management of construction and demolition glass waste

Glass for Europe wishes to see the development of efficient waste management infrastructures across Europe’s regions for the collection and treatment of construction and demolition glass as a raw material.

The glass industry is willing to contribute expertise in the setting up of these infrastructures with workable, practical and economically viable solutions. In Europe, each year, approximately 1.5 million tonnes of glass waste is generated by the demolition and renovation of buildings

There are three main operations involved in the recycling of glass generated by construction and demolition:

  • Dismantling: the glass is removed from the building and sorted by type according to the proposed end use.
  • Cullet processing: only limited quantities of Construction and Demolition glass are recycled as in most countries there is no standardized system for dismantling and collection.
  • Shredding: the whole building is demolished and the C & D waste (including glass) is crushed and shredded into pieces.

EU waste legislation & building glass recycling
Glass for Europe Position Paper March 2014
Recycling of end-of-life building glass
Glass for Europe Contribution June 2013


Economic study on recycling of building glass in Europe

In an effort to provide useful insight into the realities of end-of-life building glass, Glass for Europe commissioned a study to Deloitte Sustainability to analyse the present situation in the management and recycling of such a material in the EU. The study is the first of its kind in terms of depth of analysis and methodology:

  • It quantifies building glass waste in EU
  • It identifies best practices and pilot projects in the field of building glass waste
  • It analyses the environmental benefits of building glass waste recycling
  • It presents the economic costs and benefits. (N.B.: data and exact results ‘should be considered with care’ according to the consultants themselves)

Download  the study

Read the Press release


Use of cullet and minimization of manufacturing waste

The float glass manufacturing process produces minimal waste products and an extremely small amount of toxic wastes. The float process recycles virtually all its glass waste during production. This glass (known as cullet) is reintroduced to the float batch mix to aid melting.

In additions to this recycling of internal waste products, the flat glass industry can also use waste glass from other sources provided that quality conditions are met. The use of 'cullet' contributes to reducing the need for raw materials and energy input. In turn, it helps achieve reduced CO2 emissions.


Recycled content of flat glass for LEED certification

Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) is a rating system, developed by the U.S. Green Building Council, which aims to promote sustainable buildings, by awarding credit points in seven different categories. It addresses, amongst others, reduction of energy use, improvement to the indoor environment quality and the recycling of materials. One of these categories, Materials and Resources, enables credits to be earned on the basis of the recycled content of products. Glass for Europe revised its statement and wishes to explain how the definitions should be understood in the context of flat glass to clarify and bring uniformity to the quantification of recycled content under the LEED scheme.

Recycled Content of flat glass for LEED Certification
Glass for Europe Statament DECEMBER 2014


Recycling of Automotive glass

Between eight and nine million tonnes of end-of-life vehicle (ELV) waste is generated each year in the European Union. Automotive glass represents approximately 3% (by mass) of the total composition of a car. Recovering and dismantling automotive glass is a complex and therefore lengthy process. If the glass is recyclable, it needs to be properly dismantled from cars and sorted from the other scrap to remove the antenna, connectors and solders. Then, it needs to be treated in special facilities before it can be melted again as glass, or alternatively used as a secondary aggregate material to produce materials and products such as fibre glass and abrasives.

Glass for Europe is monitoring the market to ensure that the recycling of automotive glass is being carried out effectively and in accordance with the requirements of Directive 2000/53/EC on end-of-life vehicles, i.e. 80% of the vehicle to be reused and recycled. In particular, Glass for Europe is monitoring whether the market is managing to handle all end-of-life automotive glass.