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1 tonne of cullet saves 1.2 tonnes of raw materials. Cullet allows to save a significant amount of melting energy. An increase with 10% more cullet means saving 2,5% of energy consumption. That means a strong decrease of CO2 emission is possible thanks to cullet recycling. Recycling of 1 tonne of cullet allows to avoid the emission of 0.7 tonne of CO2.

The average cullet ratio in our raw materials is close to 30% today and AGC Glass Europe aims to increase this ratio to 50% by 2030

 

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AGC Glass Europe recycles around 1,000,000 tonnes of cullet per year, saving about 1,150,000 tonnes of raw material and 700,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions.

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Flat to Flat closed loop recycling

To achieve the objectives for flat glass in a climate-neutral Europe, a greater input of cullet is identified as one of the major routes to reduce CO2 emissions from manufacturing. It is therefore in our, and in the common interest of the flat glass industry, that an increased quantity of cullet returns to the flat glass industry in a closed-loop model, i.e. ‘flat glass to flat glass’. The sector sets the goal to promote close loop “flat glass to flat glass recycling” and no other forms of recycling (to other glass sectors) or downcycling. 

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Three routes of recycling flat glass cullet

In cullet we distinguish 3 types of routes:

  • Internal cullet : cullet at the glass production site),
  • Pre-consumer cullet : cullet occurring at customers’ sites during glass processing   
    Cutting losses of flat glass panes occurring during the pre-processing are uncontaminated and can return directly to the flat glass production. Product waste occuring after processing or at the end of life needs to be treated first by a flat glass recycler - that extracts the cullet from other materials - to send the cullet  back to float production. 

  • End-of-Life cullet : cullet generated at the end of life of the glazing product)
Recycling routes flat glass cullet

 

Cutting losses occurring during the pre-processing process are uncontaminated and can return directly to the flat glass production. Waste occuring after processing or at the end of the use stage needs to be handled first by a recycler - that extracts the cullet from other materials - before going back to float production. 

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The flat glass sector stands ready to use the available cullet, if uncontaminated, to further sustain its production, and reduce CO2 emissions from manufacturing. 

However, the cullet used in our own production process must meet stringent specifications, and so we also actively seek out alternative routes for cullet that we cannot recycle in our own products. Today the clean cullet that can be used in float glass furnaces represents only 8.5 per cent of all the glazing waste collected because we need to ensure that the cullet is not contaminated, that means not mixed with other contaminant materials.

To address this issue and in the scope of the company’s Carbon Neutrality Roadmap to reach CO2 reduction targets by 2030 and 2050, AGC launches Recycle Glass , a program for delivering flat glass circularity .

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AGC Recycle Glass

Recycle Glass is AGC's service of collecting flat glass wastes from industrial losses and from deconstruction projects (end of life glazing from commercial projects or residential buildings) in the scope to be recycled and remelted in its flat glass production. Recycle glass also aims to share the best practices in sorting flat glass waste and avoiding external pollution with the deconstruction and flat glass transformation actors in order to move to a circular loop of recycling (from flat glass to flat glass). 

AGC works with a partners network a.o. transporter, recycler, waste manager and  deconstruction companies. For end-of-life glazing, the process is  :

  • First, the window is removed from the facade and the frame is dismantled by the deconstruction company or the window installer. The glazing is collected in a dedicated container provided by AGC partners. 
  • The container is then transported to a selected flat glass recycler to process the glazing in order to extract the cullet, meeting the quality specifications for the production of flat glass. 
  • Finally, the cullet is transported to one of our closest flat glass production plants to be melted in the glass furnace. At the level of our float plants an even more attention than usual is applied to check and trace the quality of all those external cullet sources.
  • A certificate is issued to the customer to assess of the savings on material resources and CO2 
AGC Recycle Glass

 

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AGC Recycle Glass
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The challenge of collecting End-of-Life flat glass

With the renovation wave of buildings at hand, a huge potential of cullet volumes sits in existing buildings. To increase the use of post-consumer cullet, more Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) Schemes are to be set up to assure the dismantling, collection, and recycling, particularly for building glass.

In the Netherlands AGC helped to develop a national system of collection of flat glass from construction and demolition waste. Vlakglas Recycling Nederland (VRN) makes sure flat glass containers are available across the country to collect cullet. The system is financed through a tax on every m2 of insulated glass produced or imported in the Netherlands. 
Cullet output is then sold by VRN. Initially main clients were glass container, glass wool and glass treatment companies. New agreements have been put in place to sell greater quantities to flat glass manufacturers. 

In France, the EPR on (de)construction material is in force since 2023. AGC is partnering with the main eco organisms and new actors of the field  in charge of coordinating and applying this EPR scheme. 

 

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To increase the use of post-consumer cullet, more Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) Schemes are to be set up to assure the dismantling, collection, and recycling, particularly for building glass.

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Recycling other types of waste

Depending on the activities, various types of waste are produced by our plants. These include used refractories, sludge from wastewater treatment systems, waste oil from maintenance, ordinary trash from administration activities, etc. In line with the objective of avoiding landfill, for each production site we have implemented a progressive approach based on prevention, reuse, recycling, and incineration.
We have succeeded in recycling other types of waste in addition to glass cullet. For instance, most of the recycled sludge coming from wastewater treatment is now recycled in cement production.

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More on our decarbonisation journey

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Sustainable sourcing

Sustainable sourcing of raw materials will not only limit our impact on climate, but will also allow limit our use of natural resources, minerals and water, whilst insuring that the supply chain is fully compliant with regulations such as REACH or Conflict Minerals.

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Using highly efficient melting furnaces

AGC is engaged in a major transformation of the tank technology. The two steps electrification innovation, electro-boosting and then hybrid melting, is a major technology breakthrough. 

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Low-Carbon glass

AGC is now offering its customers glass, which – from the extraction of raw materials to final installation – generates more than 40% less CO2 than our standard glass. 

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