In a two-part article, Paula Wilson, Operations Manager, reflects on recycling in the UK.
Now in its 17th year, this week (21st to 27th September) is national Recycle Week.
This year, the theme is to thank the UK for continuing to recycle despite the challenges that COVID-19 has presented, under the banner ‘Together – We Recycle.’
It’s an opportunity for us all, as companies or individuals, to reflect on our own disposal or recycling strategies.
It’s certainly an issue that we take seriously at Wrightstyle, from using recycled paper to dedicated skips for any metal offcuts. Those go to a local authorised scrap metal merchant.
We are also working hard to cut down plastic packaging, using cardboard or corrugated paper and, throughout the business, using more recyclable materials.
But for us, the other good news is that glass is the most sustainable of building materials.
It is a completely recyclable material. It also provides environmental benefits – from militating against climate change to husbanding scarce resources.
Glass saves energy – either as insulation, or to generate electricity by incorporating photovoltaic cells. It is also resource efficient, being made from abundant raw materials (sand, limestone and soda ash).
Importantly, glass waste (called cullets) is entirely recyclable.
It’s estimated that the UK produces some 750,000 tonnes of flat glass every year, mainly for the building industry.
Over 20% of new flat glass now comprises recycled glass. This saves energy, because the energy needed to melt glass is less than that required to melt the original raw materials.
Reusing glass also reduces the amount of waste going to landfill. A make, use and dispose strategy that is increasingly seen as wasteful, expensive and environmentally irresponsible.
Groups such as Glass for Europe continue to push for better waste management strategies. That’s important because, across Europe every year, well over one million tonnes of glass waste is produced from the demolition or renovation of buildings.
The Resource Efficiency Roadmap sees the building sector as a key sector in terms of climate change and resource efficiency.
The EU Roadmap identifies recycling as an important part of the industry’s responsibilities to build a long-term competitive construction sector.
Let’s hope that the UK, as a former member of the bloc, continues to give the Roadmap due importance.
Across the building industry, we should be making buildings that can be demolished or renovated – and all their constituent parts recycled.
Not just some of their component parts, but everything.
In the glass industry, we’re getting there.