Glass cullet gets a clearer future in the European Union
The entry into force on December 31st 2012 of the rules establishing when glass cullet is no longer considered as waste, comes as a clarification about some of the main aspects for its recycling. Along with this regulation, the Joint Research Centre (JRC) has developed a set of specifications that will enable the glass cullet to be directly used to make new products.
European regulations concerning the treatment of the waste have considerably evolved over the recent years. Alongside the different action plans put in place to reduce waste, the publication of the EU Waste Framework Directive of 2008 gave the Commission the power to determine the condition of waste on certain materials made from recycled materials. In the case of glass cullet, Commission's Regulation (EU) Nº 1179/2012 regulates the criteria by which it is determined that glass cullet is no longer considered as waste according to the 2008 Waste Directive.
The Regulation, which entered into force on December 31st 2012 identifies, among others, a number of conditions related to the quality of the resulting glass, to the residues which have been used in the process or the procedures and treatment techniques in place for that glass no longer be considered as a residue. These technical criteria have been defined by the Joint Research Centre (JRC), who determined the concentration limits for the amount of contaminants such as metals and organic substances present in glass cullet so that it can be considered a secondary raw material.
The technical criteria established by the JRC are expected to help to reduce the level of residues in the environment by improving the level of recycling. With all these actions, the Commission intends to act on the levels of waste generation, which according to Eurostat represents around 3 billion tons of waste generated annually in the European Union. Concepts such as the end-of-waste aim at stimulating the European recycling markets by bring higher legal guaranties, removing administrative and providing safe and clean secondary raw materials.