Research and analysis

Glass Recycling Research

Investing in glass clean-up systems at material recycling facilities (MRFs) offers higher value commodities and significant savings for the entire system.

As more municipalities transition to single-stream recycling, glass is arriving at recycling facilities (MRFs) in larger volumes, taxing the limits of aging equipment. The resulting material is more contaminated, making it difficult for downstream processors and manufacturers to use. Glass prices are lower too, driving down profitability and offering few downstream options for MRFs. As a result, more glassends up in landfills.

Across the country, municipalities and MRFs are spending more than $150M a year to dispose of single-stream glass. The problem is likely to get worse as markets continue to decline. As a result, more municipalities and MRFs have chosen to remove glass from their recycling programs in recent months. If the trend continues, the system will recover less and less of the glass generated each year, despite the fact that manufacturers can save significant costs and energy using recycled glass. All stakeholders – from municipalities and MRFs to processors, manufacturers, and brand owners – need a more efficient and cost-effective solution to handle single-stream glass.


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Our Work

Closed Loop Foundation’s glass study was conducted with support from HEINEKEN USA in July through December, 2016. Our research team interviewed industry stakeholders, including MRF operators, equipment providers, consultants, glass processors, and end users.

Additional data and research included in this report was obtained from interviewees, Glass Packaging Institute, RRS, and US EPA. Data on MRFs provided by Governmental Advisory Associates, Inc., 2016-2017 Database on Material Recovery Facilities and Mixed Waste Processing Facilities in the U.S., copyright 2016.

Closed Loop Foundation