The glass industry was the first industry to start collecting and recycling its packaging. Today it achieves a record recycling rate. We discussed this policy with Jacques Bordat, the President of the French Federation of the glass industry trade associations, which has been a member of the CNE for a long time.
What can you say about the French glass industry today, and more specifically about the glass packaging industry?
The French Federation of the glass industry trade associations gathers all glass professions: glass packaging, tableware, flat glass (construction and car industries), glass wool, fibreglass, technical glass (glass-ceramic and special glass). Today in France, all these professions account for 19,000 employees, 42 factories and a 3.8 billion euros turnover in 2012.
Glass packaging accounts for 7,000 employees and is used in the food-processing industry, the perfumery and cosmetic business as well as in the pharmacy business. If we include indirect and induced jobs, the glass packaging industry accounts for more than 15,000 jobs in France, and 20 factories located at the heart of the territories and very close to its clients.
How much recycled glass is being used in the glass packaging industry today?
Recycled glass has become the first raw material of the glass industry and it represents more than 60% of the raw materials. Some of our furnaces, especially those we use to make green bottles, use more than 90% of recycled glass. The glass industry is definitely engaged in a virtuous economic circle.
Long before the creation of Eco-Emballages, you were the first ones to start recycling packaging. What did this choice mean back then?
It was in 1974, after the oil shock. The choice seemed natural then, first because it was easy to recycle glass but also because it was a means for the industrials to save raw materials and energy. At the time, sustainable development and waste recycling were still unheard of, but there was a popular slogan that said “In France, we do not have oil, but we have ideas.”
What is the glass recycling rate in France today?
According to the Ademe (Agency for the Environment and Energy Management), more than 7 out of 10 glass bottles were recycled in 2011 against only 4 in 1995. We achieved a good progress and we need to maintain it by encouraging the consumers to put their glass in recycling bins. These are the stakes of the work we have been doing on raising awareness in cooperation with local communities and Eco-Emballages. This also means setting up new bins to make recycling easier.
You were one of the first to join the CNE. Why is it important to join it?
At a time when packaging is still mainly seen as a disruptive element and considered as waste, the CNE aims at defending and promoting the primary role of packaging, i.e. protecting, preserving and transporting products. The CNE’s mission is still essential. The CNE is also a way to point out the progresses that have been made by the sector. For instance, the work the CNE has been doing in terms of prevention and ecodesign is truly exemplary. Beyond that, the CNE is also a wonderful place for exchanging with and meeting all the stakeholders of the packaging industry in order to create and define together the best practices shared and applied by all.