Car windows, conservatories or mirrors: what happens to them if they break? Recycling is the message and Maltha Glass Recycling knows all about it. This leading company welcomed us during their first company visits. Afterwards, we also talked to Wim Merket, plant manager at the Lommel site.
“Maltha Glass Recycling is a joint venture between waste-to-product company Renewi and glass packaging manufacturer Owens Illinois. In Lommel, we recycle glass from various companies: from mirrors through car windows to conservatories and windows” says Merket. “We remove all interfering materials or non-glass elements on two sorting lines. These could be plastics, metals, stones, etc.” The glass is then processed back into raw material and sold to the container glass and flat glass industries, among others. The other materials are further processed by specialised companies.
“Our ambition is to recover 100% of the collected streams” says Merket. In concrete terms, this means that materials that are separated from the glass are given the best possible application. Merket: “We look for other uses for residual flows as much as possible so that as little as possible goes to landfill or incineration.”
Furthermore, Maltha Glass Recycling has noticed a general tendency among customers to use more recycled cullet. It offers many advantages because it limits the new raw materials you have to use. It also allows ovens to run at a lower temperature. CO2 reduction? Check! However, this requires that the quality of the cullet keeps improving, especially as quality standards are tightened. “The quality of the glass is very important to us. This is why we continue to invest. In new sorting machines or sensor technologies, for example, to deliver an even better end product.”
From waste processing to production
Maltha Glass Recycling has been around for 101 years and seen a lot of changes in the industry over the years. “Traditional waste management companies are increasingly turning into production companies. They strive to deliver high quality end products rather than to process as much waste as possible” says Merket.
A shift in the right direction in our opinion. One that also makes it important to seek partnerships for processing by-products. “For example, we are also part of a research project (Photorama, n.v.) on recycling solar panels, where we focus on processing glass. While other partners focus on metals, silver, etc.” Merket concludes. “That’s a tip I’d like to give to SMEs: surround yourself with specialised partners.”