Latest LCA: Recycled Glass Superior to Virgin Materials
ShareBy Thomas Miner
The Glass Packaging Institute has coordinated the industry’s first complete cradle-to-cradle life cycle assessment which concludes that given glass’s endless recyclability, the use of recycled glass in manufacturing results in a decreased primary energy demand and reduces carbon emissions.
Groups representing other industries have claimed that the cost and environmental impact of transporting glass to be recycled offset any benefits the act of recycling would have otherwise provided. This LCA calculates the energy impact of recycled glass transportation at only 4-5% of the total energy used in glass production.
When looked at it in its entirety, the study finds that the environmental benefits stemming from the recycling of glass containers more than offset any increased impact generated by slightly heavier containers and other shipping impacts. Other factors impacting the LCA include the fact that glass is endlessly recyclable, made only from ingredients found in the natural world (sand, soda ash, limestone), and is the only packaging material accepted as “GRAS” (generally recognized as safe) by the FDA for food and beverage contact. This means glass requires no additives or additional materials to meet regulatory guidelines for use in the food industry.
The study was conducted by PE Americas and examined each step of the production process from raw material extraction to end-use. The closed-looped cradle-to-cradle LCA collected data from 105 furnaces representing 75 percent of North American glass container production.
For the complete report and more information on the North American glass container industry LCA, please visit http://www.gpi.org/.