Making the EU Circular Economy Real

The container glass sector in Europe brings value to Europe´s social, environmental and economic welfare according to findings from an Ernst & Young study commissioned by FEVE – The European Container Glass Federation.

The capital intensive container glass sector is a fundamental part of Europe´s packaging sector and has a longstanding contribution to Europe´s heritage. Annually, it invests up to Euro 610 million to innovate and maintain a network for 155 plants across the EU. This equals ten per cent of the industry´s operational costs every year. The industry contributes Euro 9.5 billion yearly to the EU GDP, and has a positive impact on Europe´s trade balance of Euro 21 billion for products primarily packed in glass.
Some 125,000 direct and indirect jobs are maintained by the sector supporting a wide range of other industries in local regions as glass plants deliver more than half of their products within 300 kilometer and more than 70 per cent of raw materials travel less than 300 kilometer. The container glass industry is the prime example of a well-functioning circular economy. It reduces its environmental footprint thanks to the effective bottle-to-bottle closed loop recycling. This is what allows the sector to collect seven out of every ten bottles for recycling – meaning one tonnes of recycled glass saves 1.2 tonnes of virgin raw materials and cuts CO2 emissions by 60 per cent. The Ernst & Young study points out the environmental credentials of the industry due to the inherent properties of glass, but also underscores the fact that bottle-to-bottle recycling can deliver a true circular economy.

Source: FEVE

Source: FEVE

This is a major opportunity

“Industries that help further a circular economy should be supported,” commented Seb Dance, Member of the European Parliament with the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats, at the dinner debate “Essentials of a European Circular Economy”, where the study was first presented. “In times of sluggish economic growth, we need to encourage long-term and sustainable business models that are able to turn waste into reusable resources and by doing so support the creation of stable, local jobs in the EU.”

“Closed loop bottle to bottle recycling is key to making the Circular Economy real, stated Adeline Farrelly, Secretary General of FEVE. “Closed loop recycling decouples the demand for resources against much needed growth in Europe. This is a major opportunity for the European economy to get out of deep water.” The container glass industry, NGOs and several groups in the European Parliament are calling on the European Commission to ensure that the Circular Economy Package remains on the EU agenda as it is an important tool to reconcile Europe´s environmental objectives with economic growth.

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Photo: Austria Glas Recycling