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Ten green bottles

Posted by Richard Monday, July 18, 2005

In another of Mr Heath's legacies, courtesy of The Daily Telegraph we find today that not so much ten but hundreds of thousands of tons of green bottles collected for recycling are building up around the country because there is not enough demand for green recycled glass.

You do not have to look very far for the cause of this problem – another of those wonderful EU laws, this one being the Packaging Waste Directive that requires recycling of waste glass. However, the government has admitted that it is unlikely that the surplus will be taken up and the glass mountains are likely to grow.

A leading industry body is concerned that Britain could end up in the European court if it does not reprocess the glass. Simply collecting it does not count as recycling.

Steven Gough, the chief executive of Valpak, the organisation set up by industry to recycle packaging waste, said: "We are in a strange situation. "To meet government targets we need to recycle more plastics, metals and clear and amber glass but we don't know what to do with the green glass mountains."

By 2008, when the next legally-binding EU target for recycling glass is reached, half a million tons of green and amber glass is expected to be surplus to requirements and sitting around in heaps. They are taking up valuable space, said Mr Gough, and are tying up capital for recycling companies, which invest in collecting the glass.

Of 1.1 million tons of jars and bottles collected for recycling last year, 190,000 tons had nowhere to go. Gluts of green glass have happened before and gone away when demand improved but now the Government has to comply with its own commitment to recycle a quarter of the dustbin by the end of the year the amount of glass collected is shooting up.

And all this because Mr Heath wanted "peace in our time". All the same, it does seem an odd way of going about preventing Germany from invading France - or vice versa.