Recycling of glass: accounting of greenhouse gases and global warming contributions

Anna Warberg Larsen, Hanna Kristina Merrild, Thomas Højlund Christensen

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Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions related to recycling of glass waste were assessed from a waste management perspective. Focus was on the material recovery facility (MRF) where the initial sorting of glass waste takes place. The MRF delivers products like cullet and whole bottles to other industries. Two possible uses of reprocessed glass waste were considered: (i) remelting of cullet added to glass production; and (ii) re-use of whole bottles. The GHG emission accounting included indirect upstream emissions (provision of energy, fuels and auxiliaries), direct activities at the MRF and bottle-wash facility (combustion of fuels) as well as indirect downstream activities in terms of using the recovered glass waste in other industries and, thereby, avoiding emissions from conventional production. The GHG accounting was presented as aggregated global warming factors (GWFs) for the direct and indirect upstream and downstream processes, respectively. The range of GWFs was estimated to 0—70 kg CO2eq. tonne —1 of glass waste for the upstream activities and the direct emissions from the waste management system. The GWF for the downstream effect showed some significant variation between the two cases. It was estimated to approximately —500 kg CO2-eq. tonne— 1 of glass waste for the remelting technology and —1500 to —600 kg CO2-eq. tonne—1 of glass waste for bottle re-use. Including the downstream process, large savings of GHG emissions can be attributed to the waste management system. The results showed that, in GHG emission accounting, attention should be drawn to thorough analysis of energy sources, especially electricity, and the downstream savings caused by material substitution.
Original languageEnglish
JournalWaste Management and Research
Issue number8
Pages (from-to)754-762
Publication statusPublished - 2009


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