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18.11.2019

Rinki explores the benefits of recycling glass: sorting glass packaging is a climate action

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Sorting glass packaging is a small act that has a great impact on climate. Each kilogramme of sorted, non-deposit glass packaging saves about 0.5 kg of greenhouse gas emissions compared to glass that ends up in mixed waste. Every Finn sorted an average of 4 kg of non-deposit glass packaging in 2018. The most enthusiastic sorters of glass can be found in the Salo, Savonlinna and Rovaniemi regions, while there is still a lot to be done in Central Finland.

Rinki already recycles 97 % of its customer companies’ non-deposit glass packaging, i.e. almost all of the glass is reused in new products. Recycled glass can be turned into a variety of products: about 82% becomes new glass packaging and about 18 % is turned into products such as glass wool, flat glass and building blocks. Glass waste always contains a small amount of other waste and materials that are sorted incorrectly, such as plastic, porcelain or metal. These, too, are primarily recycled as new products and, whenever possible, used in energy production.

Glass packaging can be melted and recycled again and again. Using recycled glass as a raw material for new packaging significantly saves energy and reduces emissions. The reductions in emissions achieved this way are significantly higher than the emissions from the transport of recycled glass.

With the reduced emissions, you could drive around the globe more than 2,000 times

When a Finn puts one kilogramme of glass packaging into a collection bin at their own property or at a Rinki Eco take-back point, the total greenhouse gas emissions are reduced by about 0.5 kg compared to glass that ends up in mixed waste. Every Finn recycles an average of four kilos of glass packaging waste every year, cutting down carbon dioxide emissions by 2.1 kg. The report was commissioned by Rinki and carried out by LCA Consulting Oy.

Finns recycled a total of 22 million kilogrammes of glass packaging in 2018. Sorting and recycling glass packaging reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 11,500,000 kg (2.1 kg/Finn). Equivalent emissions are generated if a diesel car is driven around the globe 2,052 times (15 km/Finn).

New glass packaging is not manufactured in Finland, so the glass recycled by Finns is currently used as a raw material for new bottles and jars in the UK and the Netherlands. Recycling is a great way to save the environment, and shipping to other EU countries has very little impact on this. If there was a glass packaging recycling facility in Finland and new glass packaging was manufactured here, shipping would not be required. This would reduce the emissions from glass packaging recycling by 12 %.

Proper sorting ensures that materials are successfully recycled

Finns already know how to sort most of their glass packaging, but glass waste still contains an average of 7 % of materials other than glass packaging. For example, medical glass and heat-resistant glass (e.g. coffee jugs, oven dishes, drinking glasses) should not be put into glass packaging collection containers as they impede recycling. The rule for sorting glass packaging is simple: only recycle glass packaging such as jars and bottles. Do not put kitchen glassware, such as drinking glasses and mugs, or flat glass or medical glass, into the collection container.

The Salo region is the best place for recycling glass, while efforts need to be stepped up in Äänekoski

The most enthusiastic sorters of glass packaging in Finland are found in the Salo region, while the area in which efforts needs to be stepped up is the Äänekoski region. The top five and the bottom five glass waste terminals, in terms of glass purity, are listed below by location. The terminals take in glass packaging collected from Rinki eco take-back points, shops, properties and the industries. The terminals’ radius of operation varies from region to region, and does not follow the geographical boundaries. There are 38 terminals for glass packaging waste in Finland.

Glass packaging waste is taken from the local terminals to Tolkkinen Port and shipped to glass processing plants in the UK and the Netherlands. Each batch of glass is inspected at the port of departure for impurities such as the proportion of heat-resistant Pyrex glass. The order is based on the proportion of Pyrex glass in the batch, i.e. the less Pyrex glass found in the batch, the better the sorting effort. The data is from 2018.

The best sorters of glass packaging, top 5 by region  

  1. Salo
  2. Savonlinna
  3. Rovaniemi
  4. Forssa                              
  5. Alajärvi

 Sorting of glass packaging requires improvement, top 5 by region  

  1. Äänekoski
  2. Jämsä
  3. Kuusamo
  4. Leppävirta
  5. Tornio

For more information, please contact 
Pertti Tammivuori, Operative Director, Finnish Packaging Recycling RINKI Ltd
pertti.tammivuori@rinkiin.fi, tel. +358 500 705 772

Instructions for how to sort glass packaging: rinkiin.fi