Glass recycling is colorful – FEVE statement on the recyclability of coloured glass bottles.
FEVE statement on the recyclability of coloured glass bottles.
Glass bottles are available in a large range of colours but only three of them are mainstream and represent the vast majority of the bottles on the EU market: flint (transparent), green and amber.
Colour choice depends upon several parameters (aesthetics, UV-resistance…).
From a recycling point of view, coloured glass is not suitable to produce flint bottles. In order to ensure that all glass collected can be recycled, depending on local specificities (production versus consumption) colour separation is an important step.
In the EU, the sole limitation to incorporating more cullet in the glass furnaces is its availability. Collecting more cullet remains therefore a priority.
This colour separation can take place at source (different bottle banks are offered to consumers to dispose their bottles according to their colours) but can also happen after collection through an industrial sorting. Optical sorting machines are selective and do indeed sort glass by colour.
Once glass has been sorted by colour, there is no limitations in terms of recycling to make new coloured bottles. In Europe we are producing coloured bottle made of more than 90% of cullet.
All green, amber and flint bottles can be infinitely recycled in a closed loop. As glass is a permanent material, there is no degradation of the physical and chemical properties of glass during the recycling process.
The various tints of the two basic colours (amber and green) pose no issue from a recycling point of view. Moreover, these tints are generally standardised (e.g. for green bottles, the most common tints are Georgia green, emerald green, champagne green and dead leaf green). Tints outside the standardised specifications are relatively rare and can be easily diluted in the mass of mainstream glass.
Here you can find the PDF version