Glass can be melted down to make new glass products over and over again – it is 100% and endlessly recyclable. In fact, it’s the perfect circular economy material. And making new glass from recycled glass reduces CO2 emissions and energy use. That’s why we’re working with companies at every point in the life cycle of glass products to increase recycling. 

Waste glass that has been processed ready for recycling is called cullet. Demand for good quality cullet is always high: glass manufacturers commonly use it to manufacture new bottles, jars, windows and fibre glass, as well as tiny glass beads for industrial uses. 

Increasing use of cullet in glass making is a priority in the British Glass - Net Zero Strategy: every tonne of glass re-melted saves 580kg (scope 1,2 and 3) of carbon dioxide emissions as well as decreasing the energy needed to make glass and reducing reliance on virgin raw materials.

Even when cullet quality is too poor for re-melt (that is, it contains too much of certain non-glass materials), it can still be used for a range of secondary applications, such as aggregate, an additive in building materials (including eco-cements and concretes), water filtration and blast cleaning. This is open-loop recycling (or down-cycling).

But re-melting back to glass (closed-loop recycling) is usually the best environmental option.  That’s why British Glass advocates, in line with circular economy principles, that re-melt uses should be prioritised and glass maintained at its highest material value for as long as possible.


DRS Open Letter 2021

As part of our ongoing campaign to ensure the best system is in place for glass recycling in England, we have sent an open letter to Environment Secretary The Rt Hon George Eustice MP addressing our concerns and consequences of including glass in the proposed Deposit Return Scheme. 

The letter outlines that while the industry supports the concept of a DRS as a mechanism to increase the recovery of certain types of packaging, it is not the right solution for glass in the UK.

Recycle it right

Glass is one of the most sustainable materials on earth. It is 100% recyclable and can be re-melted endlessly without ever reducing its quality. The UK glass sector has an excellent recycling record of 74.2%, one of the highest rates of any packaging material. 

Despite this high rate, at British Glass we know more can be done, which is why we have set out our ambition to achieve a 90% collection rate by 2030.

Scottish DRS legislation

The Scottish Deposit Return Scheme (DRS) claims to generate more used beverage packaging for recycling, but waste management experts argue that including glass in a DRS would actually reduce the overall amount of glass recycled and would add significant complexity and inconvenience for consumers.

Bottles and jars

Glass is infinitely recyclable – yet at the moment, around half of household glass packaging doesn’t get re-melted back to glass. Much is recycled as aggregate, or is lost to landfill or incineration. We're working to get much more glass back to be reyclced.


Although glass can be recycled back to glass indefinitely, most glazing, refurbishment and demolition glass waste currently ends up as aggregate – if it avoids landfill. We want more of this re-melted to make new glass to save more energy and reduce CO2 emissions.