Stichting Vlakglas Recycling Nederland takes on producer responsibility by providing a circular infrastructure for the recycling of glass. This saves raw materials, energy and greenhouse gases. Our credo of cradle-to-cradle is: waste is valuable.
At the end of the 1990s, glass producers came together to think about ways that fundamentally changes from the common idea in the linear economy: the responsibility for product retention, which was the consumers' responsibility, must lay with the producer. Based on that mentality, a circular company was founded in 2002, initiated by the Glass Industry Organization (GBO) and the Dutch Glass Federation (NGF). Stichting Vlakglas Recycling Nederland.
Collection and recycling
Stichting Vlakglas Recycling Nederland saves flat glass waste. This type of glass comes from residential and utility buildings and is used, for example, for double glazing, interior glazing and mirrors. The Dutch foundation is a logistics organization that has created a circular infrastructure for recycling. Throughout the country there are about 1,600 collection points and 1,500 containers. These are in glass processing and manufacturing companies, but are also available for use on site, at demolition and renovation projects and in environmental parks. In this way, Vlakglas Recycling collects waste in the Netherlands to recycle back into the technological material cycle. From about 93 percent of the glass industry's collected glass, it is possible to make new products.
All manufacturers and importers of insulating glass are legally required to pay a recycling fee. From this recycling contribution, the circular recycling network of Vlakglas Recycling Nederland is funded.
One billion kilos of glass
By recycling glass, Vlakglas Recycling NL spares the environment in roughly three ways. First of all, a recycling producer needs to gain significantly less raw material for the production of new glass; the requirements are already found in glass waste. Thus, this practice meets the credo of cradle-to-cradle (C2C): waste is raw material. In addition, it takes more energy to make new glass than to recycle glass. Finally, CO2 emissions are lower in recycled glass than in new glass.
By the end of 2016, the foundation officially collected billion pounds (!) of flat glass. With this, Vlakglas Recycling Nederland has avoided emissions of as much as 116,000,000 kilograms of CO2. In 2016, the foundation collected over 72 million kilograms flat glass, an impressive eighty percent of all flat glass waste in the Netherlands. This results in CO2 savings of more than eight million kilos.
Since the first years of its existence, Stichting Vlakglas Recycling Nederland has won several awards. For example, she won the Glas Award in 2004 and in 2011 her first Lean and Green Award. The most recent prize she has won is the Second Lean and Green Star (2017). This proves that this initiative is possible to sustain, for example in the form of CO2 reduction or in terms of saving raw materials, by developing an intelligent infrastructure based on circular principles. As the foundation itself says: together we make glass infinite.