Important year: 2022 is the International Year of Glass

Congratulations, glass! Humankind has been using glass for more than 2,000 years in celebrations and everyday life, in commerce and industry. The International Year of Glass is being celebrated in 2022 – and it’s about time, too!

By Jouko Vuorela

Photo Mikko Hirvonen

Glass is a more important material now than ever before. Due to its characteristics, the invention of the ancient world plays an important role in the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
Glass is also widely used as a packaging material, especially in the pharmaceutical and food industries. The strength of glass is its safety: nothing leaks from glass packaging onto packaged materials or products.

“Glass doesn’t fatigue but can be recycled an unlimited number of times. The glass we use now will have already been in use umpteen hundred years ago,” says Pertti Tammivuori, Operative Director of Finnish Packaging Recycling RINKI Ltd.

It’s the year of glass, but Tammivuori says that glass does not necessarily need a celebration of its own.
“Glass is with us at all celebrations: weddings, Christmas, Midsummer, May Day and graduation parties.”

Glass is efficiently collected in Finland

Rinki takes care of the collection and recycling of non-deposit packaging glass in Finland, and the collection works very efficiently.

In 2021, Rinki took 23,500 tonnes of non-deposit glass packaging for recycling, which means that the recycling rate of glass was around 92 percent.

Most of the recycled and sorted glass, about 70 percent, goes into making new packaging, such as bottles and jars, and the remaining 30 percent goes into construction products such as foam glass and glass wool.

It has set a target of 90 percent for glass recycling in Europe in 2030.

Glass also circulates well in Europe: the recycling rate of 76 percent is the best for any packaging material. The targets are even higher.

“Close the Glass Loop is a European platform that includes glass packaging manufacturers and recycling organisations. It has set a target of 90 percent for glass recycling in Europe in 2030,” says Tammivuori.