Usually, there’s not much discussion on a Friday night on twitter about our industry that is worth talking about. But when @glassmanjamie asked me if I knew of any specialist glass recycling companies other than Berrymans, things got going from there.
I tried to look for some companies myself. The types of companies that the PVC recycling industry has, but other than specialist hazardous waste companies and a couple in the Netherlands, we don’t have anything here in this country to take advantage of our industry’s glass waste. At the moment, we as a company recycle all our old PVC frames, timber and aluminium frames. But when it comes to glass, despite trying, we just can’t find anyone to take away our old units and turn them back into something useful.
What myself, @NigelGrantUpvc, @glassmanjamie and @roof_guy were all amazed at was the lack of any sort of organised recycling processes for glass in the fenestration industry. If you look at companies like Eurocell who have spent £3million on a dedicated recycling plant, here is a direct way in which systems companies are actively creating a culture and business out of recycling post consumer waste. When you consider that recycling glass is actually cheaper than making new glass, it is staggering that there isn’t a dedicated business out there doing this. Its even more staggering when you consider the amount of waste all of our glass manufacturers produce and the huge amount of old glass that is post consumer waste. You put these two factors together and you have in principle what could be a fantastic new business opportunity.
In an age of efficiency and recycling, the demand for post consumer waste glass I think could be quite high. Glass is probably one of the most easy to recycle materials out there so it wouldn’t be hard to sell on the new product produced from recycling the glass. Problem is, most of us as installers and small manufacturers don’t have the expertise, knowledge and financial clout to be able to set something like this up. It’s going to take one of the big boys, like Pilks or Saint-Gobain to do what Eurocell did and put their hands in their pockets and build a dedicated factory to do such a thing.
A dedicated factory is good, but like the PVC recyclers, I think that a scrap glass collection service is also needed to give installers an incentive to recycle their glass. Installers are busy selling and fitting week in week out. The idea of going to deliver their scrap glass to a dedicated factory probably hundreds of miles away is never going to work. So a fleet of vans and LGV’s which could circulate round installers up and down the country picking the glass up would be a good idea!
Just an idea, but something which I think could work!