Within the ARA service group, Austria Glas Recycling is responsible for organising the collection and recovery of glass packaging. Around 80,600 waste glass containers throughout the country are available for the collection of used glass packaging.
Clear and coloured glass are usually collected separately but in one single container that has two compartments. Both compartments are emptied in one go: The container is lifted over the collection vehicle, the trap door in the container floor is opened, and the container is emptied into the respective compartment of the collection vehicle – clear glass to clear glass and coloured glass to coloured glass. Around 11,000 of these modern sound-proofed containers are already in use in Austria.
The glass waste collected is melted and made into new glass products without any quality loss. As a first step in the recovery process, glass waste has to be sorted thoroughly, because any impurities would complicate the recycling process, or even make it impossible. For instance, ceramics cause inclusions that make glass brittle. The separate collection of clear glass and coloured glass also really makes sense, as one green bottle is enough to colour-contaminate 500 kg of clear cullet.
After manual sorting, waste glass is passed through a magnetic separator and through sieves. Then the cullet is mixed with silica sand, limestone, dolomite, and soda, fed into a furnace and melted at 1,580 degrees Celsius. The proportion of recycled glass is up to 100 % for green glass and up to 60 % for clear glass.
What happens next?
Processed glass is melted down and used to manufacture new glass packaging. Recycled glass melts at lower temperatures than virgin raw materials, which saves energy and helps reduce carbon emissions. The gas and electricity savings achieved every year are roughly equal to the energy consumption of 49,000 households.
Did you know that …
- the proportion of recycled glass is up to 60 % for clear glass and up to 100 % for coloured glass?
- one green bottle is enough to colour-contaminate 500 kg of clear cullet?
- sending one single glass bottle to recycling helps save enough energy to power a laptop for 25 minutes, a colour TV for 20 minutes or a washing machine for 10 minutes?