Glass recycling, an activity that continues for millennia

Brussels, 2 July 2019

Recycling glass is a topical issue in modern societies all over the world given the continuous increasing consumption and the recyclability of glass. Efficient glass recycling, however, is not a present-day achievement. Historical and archaeological evidence demonstrate that in antiquity glassworkers already collected and reprocessed broken glass into new consumer goods. Nonetheless, a historical study of glass recycling remains complicated as the contextualisation of the archaeological and historical data is not easy to grasp nor to fully understand the economic and social meaning of such finds.

What was the benefit of recycling glass in ancient times? What must have triggered people to recycle glass, assuming they were neither conscious of, nor concerned about the impact of environmental pollution created by pre-industrialized production activities and their substantial waste dumping? Most importantly, why does the recycling of glass in ancient times only occur during the Roman imperial period?

These are some of the questions answered by this research commissioned by FEVE to Dr Peter Cosyns – Doctor in Archaeology at the Free University Brussels (VUB). Please read the full research here