Glass Container Industry Releases Comprehensive Cradle-to-Cradle LCA

Wednesday 15 September 2010

Study confirms positive environmental impact of glass packaging and recycling

The North American glass container industry released the first complete cradle-to-cradle life cycle assessment (LCA) ever conducted for the industry. Coordinated by the Glass Packaging Institute, the LCA reaffirms the benefits of glass container recycling for the environment. The use of recycled glass, or cullet, in manufacturing results in a decrease in primary energy demand and reduces carbon emissions.

“The LCA confirms the industry is on the right track with the goal to use 50 percent recycled glass in the manufacture of new glass bottles and jars by the end of 2013,” said Joseph Cattaneo, GPI president. “The study shows increased cullet helps reduce energy emissions, conserve raw materials, extend the life of glass manufacturing furnaces, and save energy.”

While some maintain that the transportation of glass bottles has more of an environmental impact because of the weight of the containers, a key finding of the LCA dismisses this claim. The conclusion: when looked at it in its entirety, the environmental benefits stemming from the recycling of glass containers more than offset any increased impact generated by slightly heavier containers.

The transportation of raw materials and cullet used in glass production represents less than 4% to 5% of the total energy used in the production of container glass. While each glass container has its own carbon profile, on average, existing recycle rates offset the CO2 burden when shipping foods and beverages across America. The 50% percent content rate will only serve to further reduce carbon emissions.

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