Glass recycling is an investment that every consumer and company can make to promote the circular economy. Recycled glass gets a new lease of life in the processing of Forssa’s Uusioaines. Recycling glass is both an easy and efficient environmental act that can be done effortlessly by every consumer and company. Uusioaines from Forssa is able to recycle glass 100%.
Recycling glass packaging is a genuine environmental activity, as for every kilogram of glass packaging sorted for recycling, CO2 emissions are reduced by up to half a kilo. Consumers have already found the ease of glass recycling: in 2019, for example, 25 million kilos of glass packaging was collected in Finland.
However, it is known that many companies still have some way to go in the area of glass recycling. Located in Forssa, Uusioaines specialises in glass recycling.
”Recycling glass is a really easy way to reduce the company’s carbon footprint and affect environmental issues. Through us, recycled glass ends up being 100% recycled,” says Tiina Partanen,Process Development Manager at Foamit Group.
Uusioaines belongs to Foamit Group, which, in addition to Finland, also produces foam glass in Sweden and Norway. Foamit Group is part of Partnera Oyj. The goal of Uusioaines is for all glass to end up in circulation. According to Partanen, companies in particular still have the potential to increase their recycling rate.
”Each of us must play our part in reducing our carbon footprint. Recycling glass is one really easy way to implement corporate responsibility.
Uusioaines would have the capacity to process much more glass than at present. The company aims to achieve the best glass recycling rates on a European scale.
”The most important thing is that the glass does not end up in landfills in vain as mixed waste. Mixed waste treatment is expensive for companies. Even though there are costs for sorting and transporting glass to a recycling point, it is a cheaper and more ecological option for the company,” Partanen says.
Today, most glass packaging sorted by Finns is handled by a Finnish workforce at the Uusioaines factory in Forssa. Until a few years ago, glass packaging waste, i.e. non-deposit glass bottles and jars, was further processed in countries such as the Netherlands and England.
Recycling foam glass for the construction industry
Now practically all glass returned to a glass recycling point goes into circulation and ends up either as a new glass packaging, as a raw material for the glass wool industry or as a new final product for the construction industry.
”When the glass arrives at Forssa, it is cleaned. The glass is not washed, but non-glass materials and metal particles, for example, are removed from it. The glass is then broken down by colour, quality and size, Partanen clarifies.
The smallest glass cullet, less than 6 mm in size, ends up as foam glass. The larger particles of broken glass get a new lease of life, for example, in glass jars or bottles.
”Foam glass is used in the construction industry and in various infrastructure construction projects. It is ideal for lightening damp, heavy soils, for example, as well as for the adjacent structures and structures of houses. This is a very light and versatile product,” Partanen says.
A genuine circular economy
In practice, glass can be recycled almost forever, as the properties of the glass do not deteriorate when recycled. This means that waste material cannot be found in glass recycling.
”This is about the circular economy at its best. Not only do we recycle, but the material is available over and over again. Recycled glass material naturally reduces the need for virgin material and the need for energy in the manufacture of glass packaging. Thanks to the manufacture of foam glass, all recycled glass can be used as an ecological material alternative for the construction industry and infrastructure construction,” Partanen says.
Responsibility, the utilisation of the circular economy and environmental values are already an integral part of operations and values.
”They are a foregone conclusion and an integral part of everyday life and strategy work for us. As part of our strategy work, we have created sustainability goals, and we will publish our first sustainability report early this year,” Partanen says.
No porcelain in the glass
In glass recycling, accuracy is an asset: if you are going to recycle, you should make recycling right.
Impurities and non-glass materials are removed from the glass recycling plant. However, porcelain containers, for example, end up in glass collection too often.
Porcelain is always sorted into mixed waste, as it melts at a different temperature from glass, and removing it from the glass material consumes extra energy.
In addition to porcelain, kitchen glassware must not be put into the recycled glass collection, i.e. drinking glasses and coffee pots, for example, are not included as ordinary glass.