The construction industry’s increased appetite for raw materials represents 40%¹ of global consumption. As a major consumer of virgin raw materials, the construction sector has a role to play in improving resource efficiency and waste management by transforming the linear model, where resources become waste, to a circular model, where waste can turn into a resource.
Resource-efficient construction emerges then as a system-wide approach to achieve sustainable construction by considering the flow of materials over the lifetime of a building. For new buildings, this means using less resource-intensive solutions, new technologies, recycled materials and new approaches to design and construction. For renovation projects, this conveys thinking about how to better recycle existing building materials to attain the same or even better performance.
How do we act?
Glass is a suitable material for recycling. In fact, it is possible to produce recycled glass without altering the properties of the glass manufactured. The same product can be remanufactured from a glass substrate while maintaining:
Comparable optical quality
Identical mechanical performance
Float glass products from Saint-Gobain Glass contain about 1/3 of cullet (scraps of glass) according to an average of all our industrial plants worldwide. Today, we use 13% of pre-customer cullet which is the glass waste generated from the glass sheet transformation stage and/or from products that have not yet been delivered to clients. This type of cullet can be found on coating lines and processing sites. Our initiatives to use recycled glass fall within our sustainability objectives for 2030, to use 40% of cullet in our glass with an increase of the percentage coming from external sources.
Using cullet in the manufacturing of our glass contributes positively to our sustainability objectives. Each 1 ton of cullet used allows us to reduce the CO2 emissions of our glass by 700kg (involving scopes 1, 2 and 3 emissions), preserves 1.2 tonnes of primary raw materials (including sand) and lowers the energy needed for melting cullet by 30% (compared to melting primary raw materials).
¹ Global Alliance for Buildings and Construction, Global Status Reports 2017