This Roadmap focuses on how to achieve the target of collecting 90% of glass packaging for recycling in the UK by 2030, with a focus on remelt. It recognises the importance of not only increasing the quantity of glass collected but also the quality – as this impacts the ability to remelt back into glass containers – and that the collection scheme design is pivotal for this. 

This roadmap uses the latest available glass data for the UK, including: updated placed on market figures for 2022 (by sector, format, and colours) and waste metrics including composition by stream, exports, and latest PRN returns. It details UK household collection profiles by local authority glass performance – revealing the highest and lowest performers, and those who do not currently collect at kerbside. This is entwined with the latest understanding on incoming legislation, its scope, and implementation dates.  

The recycling rate in the UK for glass is high at over 75%, but to improve glass recycling rates it is imperative to capture more glass and to do so at high quality levels, more conducive to remelt.  

Local authority service profiles were investigated based on performance of glass collections at kerbside based on glass collected per household per year. For those collecting the most glass there is a tendency towards offering more two-stream recycling services (either fibres or glass separated) and reduced residual services (both in terms of frequency and bin capacity).  

The Welsh Collection Blueprint was used as an example of good practice, with latest figures (2023) showing that of glass disposed at home in Wales, 92% is placed in the recycling box and only 8% in the residual bin. For Welsh authorities still operating a co-mingled service the average rate of non-target material capture was over 3x that of those operating separated services.  

The separate collection of glass is key to improving final cullet quality for avoiding contamination and closed loop recycling. 

Incoming legislation will change the landscape of packaging and kerbside collections across the UK as it is intended to drive resource efficiency and the move towards a circular economy. It will see the introduction of Extended Producer Responsibility across the UK, Deposit Return Schemes (DRS), a harmonised set of materials for collection in England, and new digital waste tracking measures.  

Key recommendations

Using this information, opportunities and interventions were identified to maximise the potential for capturing high quality glass for recycling, towards the target rate of 90% by 2030. The key enablers for this include: 

  • Moves away from material co-mingling and towards, at minimum, two-stream recycling collection approaches – to facilitate kerbside sort approaches to improve quality, and ease feedback on disposal behaviour for local authorities.

  • Reductions in the frequency and capacity of residual waste collections – towards incentivising recycling and social norms.

  • Communications campaigns that target glass items with high rates of missed capture – to increase capture rates.

  • Targeted campaigns at local authorities in England that currently offer no kerbside glass collections – to improve citizen knowledge from the outset once Simpler Recycling is in effect. This would extend to local authorities in other nations that do not offer such collection schemes.

  • Campaigns that clearly outline the scope of DRS across nations – to improve citizen knowledge and correct disposal behaviours.

  • Increased business engagement on design for recyclability guidance – to ensure that glass is fit for high quality recycling and adequately labelled. 

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  • A Roadmap to Closed Loop Glass Recycling

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