Separate collection of food and non-food glass containers is not needed
The glass industry has adapted its entire infrastructure to ensure that collected glass is suitable for bottle-to-bottle recycling. Unlike plastics and other packaging materials, food and non-food glass containers can be collected together without compromising the closed loop recycling back into glass packaging.
Moreover, manufacturers have already invested in sorting technologies that ensure collected glass is carefully sorted, maximising the quality of recycled content before melting.
DRS can’t be considered a mainstream solution for glass recycling
In Europe, nearly 8 out of 10 glass bottles entering the market are collected for recycling – the vast majority through EPR systems. In comparison, DRS cannot be considered a mainstream solution for tackling glass. Looking at the DRS systems in operation across Europe, they accounted for only 3.1% of recycled glass generated in 2017 and were only the main collection method in two of the 27 EU Member States.
Dual recycling systems can be confusing to consumers
Operating two glass collection systems in parallel can be more confusing for consumers, who must identify which containers are suitable for DRS and which should be recycled through bottle banks and kerbside collection.
This may ultimately result in less glass being recycled overall, as DRS typically focus on maximising the collection of certain beverage glass containers, disregarding all other types of containers, such as other beverage containers (like wines or spirits), food jars, perfume bottles, cosmetic, and pharmaceutical packaging – which can all also be integrated into the recycling loop.
DRS doesn’t maximise the quantity or quality of recycled glass
Out of the 13 EU countries with a glass collection rate above 80%, only 3 have a DRS for glass (Estonia, Finland, Germany) and in these 3 countries the EPR schemes perform very well. On the other hand, DRS are in operation in Croatia and Lithuania and although the collection rates for glass in the DRS are high, the overall national recycling rates are below the EU-27 average and place the two countries within the seven least performing Member States in Europe.
This is because the introduction of the DRS has resulted in a lack of investment, planning or system management in EPR. In fact, the implementation of a recycling DRS can impact the efficient collection by the local authorities of non-DRS material, undoing decades of investment in infrastructure and education.
Introducing glass in DRS can lead to increased plastic (and metal) consumption
The inclusion of glass in a DRS has clear market distorting consequences. In countries with dual recycling systems, the market share of glass packaging for products that are commonly within the scope of DRS (beer, soft drinks, mineral water) is 65–78% lower than in those without a DRS. This is due to the fact that it is more difficult to manage glass through a DRS than.plastic or cans, and this is reflected in the much higher producer fees for glass. In addition, countries like Croatia, Germany and Finland, which have all included glass in DRS, have seen a public shift towards PET options and a subsequent reduction of glass bottles on the market.