Recycling glass in the hospitality sector

The Hospitality and Food Service Agreement has two key targets; a waste prevention target to reduce food and associated packaging waste arising, and a waste management target to increase the overall rate of food and packaging waste being recycled, sent to anaerobic digestion (AD) or composted. The following information will help you meet these targets including reducing the weight of glass packaging and the different ways glass can be recycled and the CO2 impacts.

What happens to glass when it is recycled?

Glass is infinitely recyclable provided it is collected and processed in the right way.  The most environmentally favourable approach is for recycled glass to be used in glass furnaces to produce new glass bottles and containers. This process is known as remelt, and can be repeated over and over again. This not only saves valuable natural resources but also saves energy and reduces carbon dioxide emissions.

Currently only half of the glass collected for recycling in the UK is remelted. The remainder is used in other applications such as aggregate in road construction or in fibreglass insulation manufacture, some may be landfilled. None of these options offer the same environmental benefits as remelt.

How to ensure your recycled glass is used in remelt

The hospitality sector produces approximately 600-650 thousand tonnes of glass waste a year, about the same weight as 1600 jumbo jets or 90,000 London double decker buses. Through the Agreement, we would like to work with you to try and increase the amount of that glass that is collected for recycling and the proportion that goes to remelt.

Support and guidance

We have developed an online glass collection directory to help businesses find companies who offer glass recycling collections locally. Read the supporting case studies on glass collection and start using the glass directory.

WRAP has developed a web based tool called recycle at work that allows you to identify recycling waste contractors in your area by the service type you require or the material type that you need collecting.

WRAP has worked with the wine industry to develop and produce lighter weight wine bottles, helping to reduce glass packaging waste. Our work has already saved 37,828 tonnes of glass since 2006, (equivalent to 98 of those jumbo jets).

What next?

Start recycling or improve your existing recycling by reading the Hospitality recycling information sheet.

Review your waste contracts and try to ensure you include contract clauses that encourage glass to remelt by reading the opportunities for contract changes in hospitality

If you are considering using glass compactors aim to choose a compactor that produces larger pieces of glass and less glass fines.  Read this crushed glass case study to find out more.

Key facts to help you train your staff

Train your staff about recycling glass using these key facts:

  • Recycling one glass wine bottle saves enough energy to power a television for 2.5 hours.  Use the Coca Cola recyclometer to calculate more savings
  • Glass is 100% recyclable and can be melted down and made into new glass bottles, again and again.
  • Glass that is thrown away and ends up in landfill sites will never decompose.
  • The UK glass industry needs more recycled glass, particularly clear glass bottles which are common in the hospitality sector.  This is because we manufacture more clear glass than green glass containers in the UK.
  • Never put lightbulbs, cookware such as ‘Pyrex’ or ‘Visonware’ or ceremics such as tea and coffee cups in your glass recycling, as these impurities cannot be melted down and have to be removed before the glass can be used to make new containers.

For more support and advice

If you have any queries about how you can recycle more glass please email us.