The EU Circular Economy: To Infinity and Beyond

April 2015

A study commissioned earlier this year by The European Container Glass Federation (FEVE) found that Europe’s glass packaging industry is one of the most valuable contributors to the continent’s social, environmental and economic prosperity.

So how does a circular economy benefit Europe?

The glass packaging industry is one of the best examples of a successful circular economy, as it has spent time over the years refining its manufacturing processes, reducing the environmental footprint of its work and, as a result, has created the bottle-to-bottle closed loop recycling system.

A circular economy focuses only on consuming what it can truly replace. As Europe’s population increases, so will demand for resource. The good news for us is seven out of every 10 glass bottle are collected for recycling by glass manufacturers. So in environmental terms, FEVE believes that this means one tonne of recycled glass saves as much as 1.2 tonnes of virgin raw materials and cuts CO2 emissions by a staggering 60 per cent!

That truly is a circular economy in action.

FEVE published a seven-step guide to the EU’s circular economy, which we have dissected below:

1. Design
Glass design has much improved over the past 20 years. In fact, glass bottles are now 30 per cent lighter than they were in 1995, so require less energy and fewer emissions to transport

2. Production
In the last 25 years, production of glass across the EU has increased by 39.5 per cent and the industry currently employees 125,000 people who contribute a massive €9.5 billion per year to Europe’s GDP

3. Distribution
The glass industry knows good logistics: more than half of glass containers are transported to customers within a 300km area of where they were made

4. Consumption
Europeans prefer glass; 87 per cent of us choose glass because it can be recycled, refilled and reused

5. Collection
More than 70 per cent of all glass bottles are collected for recycling each year

6. Recycling

Glass is 100 per cent infinitely recyclable. No matter how many times it is used, glass never diminishes in quality in the cradle-to-cradle closed loop cycle

7. Raw materials
One tonne of recycled glass saves 1.2 tonnes of virgin raw materials and dramatically reduces carbon emissions by 60 per cent

Find out more about the glass industry’s circular economy on the FEVE YouTube channel.

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