Shabeer Jhetam, CEO of The Glass Recycling Company, shares the future of glass recycling with u|Chief.
- Photos: Consol
In terms of the process, how important is it for glass to be clean in order for it to enter the recycling ‘loop’?
Glass should be rinsed but they do not need to be excessively clean. Rinsing off excess food waste is advised, but it is not necessary for glass to be spotless, as the heat from the furnace destroys dirt remnants. Lids should be removed and recycled separately. There is no need to remove labels as these are burnt within the furnace, or separated when the glass colours are separated via optical sorting machines.
“It is not necessary for glass to be spotless, as the heat from the furnace destroys dirt remnants. Lids should be removed and recycled separately.”
How much of the separation of different colours of glass happens manually… or is it all crushed and simply everything extracted
No coloured glass is sorted manually in SA. There are highly advanced automated systems that are used to separate glass in different colours, even after the glass has been crushed into small pieces of cullet. Glass manufacturers have invested nearly R600 million in automated colour processing plants to ensure that all glass recovered is used in the manufacture of new glass packaging.
Glass manufacturers have invested nearly R600-million in automated colour processing plants to ensure that all glass recovered is used in the manufacture of new glass packaging.
Can collectors crush the glass to make it easier for them to store and, perhaps, make it a better ‘yield’ in terms of less delivery trips?
Generally, the glass is crushed at the buy-back centres where the glass is taken prior to being transported in bulk to the manufacturers. Collectors can crush the glass themselves, however, it is advisable they wear gloves, eye masks and safety shoes. TGRC provides gloves to buy back centres and entrepreneurs who qualify to receive these, in order to ensure they have appropriate safety gear.
Where do you see the potential to grow recycled glass sources?
Ultimately, a great deal of the glass collected for recycling comes from lower-income areas, including townships, as it is the higher income groups that are less likely to ensure their glass is recycled. There is huge scope to increase the recycling in these more upmarket suburban areas.
There is also not enough being done in the hospitality industry, for instance with bars, restaurants and hotels, all of which use significant volumes of glass – and not all of this glass is being recycled.
“There is huge scope to increase the recycling in more upmarket suburban areas… as the higher income groups are less likely to ensure their glass is recycled.”
Lastly, there is also an opportunity for retailers, malls and various shops to offer recycling at their stores so that recycling is synonymous with shopping, and then to ensure there are plenty of recycling points or glass banks.
It is disappointing how few retailers offer glass recycling. TGRC can provide a glass bank accommodating just under a ton of glass, free of charge, to retailers, schools, petrol stations, malls, restaurants, bars and large complexes to enable the community to recycle. There are currently over 4 000 glass banks in South Africa, and you can find a glass bank here www.tgrc.co.za or you can apply for one online!
- The Glass Recycling Company (TGRC) is the national recycling body mandated to increase recycling in South Africa. It is a not for profit organisation that is passionate about ensuring that every South African realises the value of recycling glass and actively embraces this practice.
TGRC was established following a Memorandum of Understanding signed in 2005, with the Department of Environmental Affairs. The role of the organisation is to increase glass reuse through returnable bottles and recycling in South Africa. In 10 short years, TGRC have increased the glass recycling rate from 18% to 41.1%.
In addition, they support Government’s principles and guidelines for transformation striving to develop more entrepreneurs in the formal and informal sectors by assisting in creating income generating opportunities and skills transfer to historically disadvantaged South Africans.