Business glass recycling quick facts & stats

  • The commercial glass recycling statistics reveal that there is room for improvement amongst business and industry. Within the hospitality industry alone, pubs, restaurants, and bars send 200 000 tonnes of glass to landfill each year.
  • A green wine bottle in the UK is said to comprise around 68% recycled material.
  • 1 tonne of re-melted glass = 246kg of carbon emissions (not to mention the energy and raw materials required for the creation of new glass).
  • One recycled glass bottle saves enough energy to power a computer for around 25 minutes or power a lightbulb for four hours.
  • Glass does not decompose. It will take around 1 million years for the glass in landfill and littering our eco-systems to decompose.
  • Glass does not lose its quality on recycling.
  • 11.5 million tonnes of packaging waste were generated in the UK in 2016. Of that, 7.4 million tonnes were recycled.
  • Recycled glass packaging amounted to 316kt in the second quarter of 2019 – a decline from previous years.
  • In 2008, the hospitality industry generated approximately 588 000 tonnes and 652 million tonnes of glass waste.
  • Glass can be graded and classified into different categories with different chemical compositions.
  • Not all glass can be recycled. For example, lightbulbs and certain chemically-treated glass forms.
  • In terms of CO2 emissions, recycling glass jars and bottles has the same effect as removing 120 000 cars from the roads.

The waste glass life cycle

  1. New glass is created and manufactured into various products
  2. Waste glass is disposed of. Glass for recycling is sent to a glass treatment plant, sorted by colour, and washed. When glass is not sent to landfill, glass is processed into a product called cullet, ready for recycling.
  3. Cullet is used to create new products such as bottles and jars, but also windows and fibreglass, as well as smaller components for industrial applications. It is crushed, melted, and moulded into new products. (Broken glass may go through a different process.)

Within three days, a glass bottle or jar can be recycled into a new product.

Businesses that can benefit from glass recycling strategies

  • The hospitality sector
  • The retail sector
  • Events
  • Construction
  • Motor vehicle
  • Labs and medical suppliers

Glass considerations for businesses


  • Glass is produced using four main components: sand, soda ash, limestone, and additives.
  • Glass is 100% recyclable. It is perpetually recyclable too, so it can be recycled over and over again. This means there is every reason for businesses to give new life to old products.
  • In producing new glass products, large tracts of land are quarried for raw materials. This not only defaces the landscape – affecting habitats and eco-systems – it consumes energy.
  • The glass manufacture process is energy-intensive; not to mention the environmental cost of transportation to the plant.
  • Government has committed itself to an 80% reduction in CO2 emissions by 2020. This means we will see increasing regulation around business targets to assist in meeting these targets.
  • The Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive has set a 60% recovery target.


Landfill tax is more expensive than ever – and the cost is expected to rise as the burden on landfill (and the focus on the environment) increases. As a general rule, if you are putting waste into your general waste bin, it is costly to your business. Apart from the environmental benefits of recycling, glass recycling is cheaper than general collection. This will continue to be the case as landfill tax increases.

Glass is a weighty part of your waste bin.


For businesses that generate glass waste (especially those in the hospitality and retail sectors), waiting for glass collection can quickly become a storage nightmare. This usually involves many glass bins – or larger glass bins, which have health and safety implications. This is particularly the case for inner-city establishments.


Many businesses are put off by the thought of the logistics around the recycle bin system. This does not have to be complicated. Simple, once-off training with an explanation on the benefits to your company and the environment should motivate your team to recycle effectively. This also stands to boost staff morale.

What happens to glass that can’t be recycled?

The ability to recycle glass depends on the quality of the cullet. If cullet is of poor quality and is unrecyclable, there are still options available to upcycle it as building materials and water filtration, for example.

Make glass part of your waste management strategy


Determine optimal collection intervals. This means the least disruption for your business as possible. We can also work with you to devise a time for collection to prevent noise disturbance to your neighbours. Work with a company that makes safety the paramount concern.

Business perks with less work

Recycling is important to your customers and stakeholders. The more you recycle, the more it benefits your business reputation, the environment, and improves your bottom line. By working with a waste specialist, get experts to work on your waste strategy on your behalf and implement it to the highest standards.

The team of waste specialists at Smarter Business are passionate about converting your existing waste habits into a strategy for savings. Your glass recycling forms part of this. With exceptional customer service and the expertise to innovate, streamline your business waste with Smarter Business.

  • Responsible
  • Cost-effective
  • Reliable
  • Hassle-free
  • Long-term and short-term solutions
  • Tailormade advice and services

Partner with Smarter Business waste solution today.