What happens to my glass after it’s recycled?
Friends of Glass urge brands to move back into glass after consumer survey results
Following Earth Day, the pan-European consumer movement Friends of Glass is calling on brands to make the switch back to glass.
The move comes after a new survey shows that shoppers are reporting that their favourite brands have started using less glass packaging.
The independent survey* of more than 10,000 consumers across 13 European countries, found that in the UK, 32% could no longer choose to buy their regular shopping favourites in glass.
However, despite this drop in availability of popular products in glass, the same survey showed that 57% of consumers in the UK still prefer glass because of its superior environmental credentials.
Victoria Adams, Senior Communications Officer at British Glass, which manages Friends of Glass in the UK, said:
“While it is disappointing to see a shift away from glass by certain brands, the survey confirms that glass continues to enjoy the strong support of the consumer, who recognise it as one of the most sustainable forms of packaging.
“Not only is glass infinitely recyclable without a drop in quality, recycled glass is also a vital resource for making new bottles and jars, helping to reduce CO2 emissions and raw material use”.
According to the survey, the environmental impact of packaging is seen as an important decision driver in food and beverage purchases across Europe, with the majority of consumers (3 in 4) ‘highly concerned’ about littering of food containers and 1 in 3 respondents citing this as their most important consideration. At the same time, 46% of Europeans state that they have significantly decreased their consumption of plastic to prevent littering in the environment.
Glass consistently scores as the most environmentally-friendly packaging material too: overwhelmingly, it comes out on top in addressing contamination and environmental issues, particularly when it comes to avoiding food littering (43%), avoiding packaging waste (43%) and addressing climate change (48%).
Mrs Adams added:
“As we prepare to mark another Earth Day, it’s great to see that not only is glass recycling performing well in the UK, with a collection rate of 67%, but that the benefits of glass packaging and recycling strongly resonate with consumers.
“Our ambition, alongside that of our European colleagues, is to increase recycling rates by achieving a collection rate of 90% by 2030 and the full recycling of collected glass packaging through the European Close the Glass Loop project, as well as increasing recycling targets for glass in the UK – We want people not just to recycle, but recycle more and better.
“Ultimately, we all get out what we put in, which is why we’re urging everyone to join us in our effort to collect and recycle every single glass bottle, to look after our environment now and for generations to come.
*About the InSites survey: The independent survey was conducted in late 2019 and finalised in 2020 via independent consumer research company InSites Consulting, targeting consumers aged 25-65 in 13 European countries: Austria, Croatia, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain, Switzerland, Turkey and the UK. Participants were recruited via an online research panel, with a gender split of 75% female and 25% male respondents. In total, 10,605 Europeans took part.
The survey tested consumer perspectives on beverage and food packaging and how this affects their purchasing decisions, including environmental consciousness, attitudes and behaviours around recyclability, and perceptions and preferences for different forms of packaging. The purpose was to explore consumer attitudes toward packaging materials, and to generate relevant consumer data for the container glass industry. The survey built on previous findings from 2016 and 2014.