The US Glass Packaging Institute (GPI) plans boost the nation’s glass recycling rate to 50% by the end of the decade, up from 33% figure it has hovered around for many years. The organisation believes its goal is ‘ambitious but achievable’.
‘The 50% recycling goal cannot be achieved just by doing more of the same or relying solely on a single-stream system that commingles glass, metal, paper, and plastic,’ the institute says. ‘No silver bullet solution, such as requiring that new containers have mandatory levels of recycled content, can exist without first solving substantial infrastructure challenges.’
GPI says this means the public and private sectors cooperating at two levels: targeted investment in infrastructure to improve systems in selected markets and transformational changes to collection and recycling processes.
With the Boston Consulting Group, it has developed a ten-year plan to raise the US’s glass recycling rate to 50%.
The plan has three pillars:
- Leave no bottle behind. This multi-prong initiative involves new or expanded bottle-bill laws, clean collection options, and expanded commercial recycling programmes.
- Transform the recycling system. Investments and improvements must be made in collection, separating, and processing, especially in selected regions, to reduce the glass that goes to landfills.
- Drive collective action. This entails creating user-friendly deposit-return programmes run by the private sector and other cooperative approaches that build awareness and momentum.
‘These pillars are self-reinforcing,’ says GPI president Scott DeFife. ‘Improving collection rates without investing in sorting and processing infrastructure, for example, would not fundamentally improve the recycling rate, and vice versa. A comprehensive approach is necessary.’
He adds: ‘Recycling is not optional. Recovering a material that can be recycled forever makes economic and environmental sense, helping to achieve global sustainability and greenhouse gas reduction goals. GPI is committed to unlocking the full potential and innate circularity of glass by forming industry, consumer, and public partnerships to achieve a 50% glass recycling rate by 2030.’
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