Glass Waste

Recent decades have seen a significant increase in the way we use materials, which is resulting in rapidly increasing waste and emissions, both in India and globally. The capacity of the global ecosystem to absorb the growing amount of waste is limited. India alone produces three million tonnes of glass waste annually, of which only 35% is recovered, and the rest often ends up in landfills or down cycled into construction material aggregates. If we are looking to live more sustainably, resource recovery is critical. We only have a limited number of years to make the shift towards a circular economy and sustainability, and the glass industry certainly cannot be overlooked.

But have we questioned the environmental sustainability of this industry?

Glass provides a huge potential to establish “true” circularity. As a completely natural material –made of just sand, soda ash, and limestone, as well as recycled glass – it is100% and infinitely recyclable, without loss in quality or purity. The loop is endless.

Additionally, per tonne of cullet, or refuse glass, used in the manufacture of float glass has the potential to save 1.2 tonnes of raw material, reducing requirements for mining, quarrying, and associated processing, and transportation. A large proportion of raw materials (35% or more) can be replaced by cullet/recycled materials if they are available at the right quantities, quality, and price. In terms of energy usage, as cullet melts at a lower temperature than raw materials, for every 10% of cullet added to the furnace,3% less energy is used, mitigating approximately 250–300 kg of CO2emissions.

Realising the immense potential of the sector to advance circularity and glass recycling in India, Karo Sambhav partnered with Saint-Gobain to design one of the first successful and scalable industry-led initiatives – Dear Cullet– with the aim of formalising the glass waste market and achieving a more sustainable and circular future for glass in India.

So, what did we do?

Karo Sambhav onboarded approximately 1334 glass dealers to collect the leftover cullet, transport them to dedicated collection centres, and sort them to be ready for the glass recycling process. This collection process is an extremely delicate step as it takes just one error, a piece of glass falling on the ground or coming into contact with another material, to impair the quality of the cullet, resulting in it no longer being usable or recyclable to manufacture flat glass.

Karo Sambhav drove the training of dealers and workers on effective segregation and disposal of the cullet in order to guarantee the cullet quality compatible with Saint-Gobain standards to manufacture new glass. Each dealer was provided two bins – blue and green – for cullet segregation into clear and coloured glass, respectively, which were then transported to Saint-Gobain plants, to be fed back into the glass furnace for reutilisation.

The initiative hasal ready seen success within a span of six months, by profitably delivering 2000 tonnes of cullet to Saint-Gobain since mid-November 2021. This is far beyond the initial target of collecting 50 tonnes in a year. This feat was achieved by operating out of two collection centres in Delhi NCR and Ludhiana. But given the positive outcome of the Dear Cullet project, Karo Sambhav plans to further expand its collection network and set up a new warehouse in Chandigarh next.

In the lifespan of glass, it goes through many stakeholders—from the manufacturer, it goes through the brand owner, the retailer/dealer, the consumer, the collector, and the glass recycler, to finally end up back in the production loop as recycled content. This initiative has been the first step towards bringing these players together with one common goal of recycling more and recycling better, to make it a way of life. By making the glass value chain truly circular, we can make progress on the UN Sustainable Development Goals, as well as enable India to meet its targets and commitments made at COP 26 in Glasgow this year.

Wherever you are in the value chain, whether you’re a brand, consumer, or collector, you too can help to close the glass loop. So, join us in this cohesive circular economy revolution and let’s ‘Make it Possible’.

Karo Sambhav collaborates with leading organisations to jointly develop industry frameworks, standards, governance mechanisms, systems and processes that advance the transition to circular economy. know more about our alliances.

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