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Supermarkets and food retailers can play a very important role to keep glass out of landfills

| Going green

According to Shabeer Jhetam, the CEO of The Glass Recycling Company (TGRC), South Africa’s official organisation for promoting glass recycling and its reuse, supermarkets are considered very important partners in the quest to recycle as much glass as possible.

These businesses put a lot of glass packaging into the market, but are not sufficiently involved with the recycling of glass.

“We have made some inroads, and a small number of retailers have recycling facilities, but it is often too small to make a dent in the amount of glass that needs recycling.”

TGRC has been offering glass banks for recycling to many shopping centres, but the uptake is slow. Jhetam says this could be the result of the space that the glass banks need, often taking some space in the parking area.

“New shopping centres should be designed with recycling facilities in mind. I think supermarket groups are in an excellent position to put pressure on property owners to incorporate recycling facilities in the shopping centres.

“A glass bank can give a shopping centre a competitive advantage. We aggressively market the locations of our glass banks and this can be very good for a shopping centre. It would attract shoppers who want to drop glass at the glass banks.” Jhetam says that shoppers are often more committed to recycling than retailers.

A glass bank will not create a hassle for retailers, as TGRC service and clean all their glass banks regularly.

In South Africa, 41% of all glass is recycled, which is very high for a developing country. Only 15% of glass packaging used by consumers ends up in landfills, a number TGRC is very proud of. This is due to glass being recycled as well as glass that is returned  using South Africa’s efficient returnable bottle system. About 3 000 entrepreneurs are supported by TGRC to buy glass from the 50 000 active glass collectors around the country. All recycled glass in South Africa is used to manufacture new glass packaging. “We would really like to work with the big supermarket groups to get glass banks going at all major shopping centres. They can also help by encouraging their customers to recycle glass packaging. We can help with marketing collateral and in-store signage. I strongly believe that together we can make a big difference,” Jhetam says.

The Glass Recycling Company (TGRC) consists of a team dedicated to increasing glass recycling in South Africa. Its aim is to educate, enable, encourage and inspire individuals to separate their glass for recycling. TGRC is funded by industry shareholders who manufacture glass or package their products in glass. Retailers who are interested in partnering with TGRC can visit or send an email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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