Carbon Footprint and Energy Update

Among countries measured by absolute carbon dioxide emissions, South Africa is one of 20 countries with the highest emissions per capita.

It is with this in mind that Government plans to implement carbon taxes as a means to address climate change. While the scheduled date of this implementation has shifted, carbon tax as a punitive measure against environmentally detrimental conduct will soon become a reality. Recycled glass and returnable bottles both have a key and lasting role to play in the reduction of carbon dioxide and greenhouse emissions.


As a nation, we consume 3 million tons of glass packaging annually but only need to produce 1 million tons as a direct result of our advanced returnable system. This means that far less carbon and greenhouse emissions are created in the production of our country’s glass requirements than would be necessary were we to manufacture all our glass bottles and jars from raw materials. By simply selecting returnable bottles in our purchasing decisions, South Africans can contribute towards the Government’s efforts of minimising our country’s carbon footprint. The more glass we recycle as a nation, the less energy we will require thereby reducing our carbon footprint.

The use of recycled glass when manufacturing new glass bottles, jars and other products reduces the amount of energy needed to make a new product. As there is no limit to the number of times glass can be recycled, the environmental benefits of glass recycling are unique to the container industry.

Our website features an Energy Calculator giving recyclers a very clear idea of how much energy can be saved through the simple act of placing glass containers in a glass bank. The recycling of only one glass container per week, by way of example, saves enough energy to:

  • Light a compact flourescent bulb for: 7 hours 8 minutes
  • Operate a computer for: 20 minutes
  • Operate a TV for: 13 minutes

Furthermore, recycling just one glass container per week for a full year saves enough energy to power the following:

  • A compact flourescent bulb for: 15 days 11 hours
  • A computer for: 17 hours 20 minutes
  • A television for: 11 hours 33 minutes

In total just 52 glass containers recycled over the course of a year translates into a saving of 5 200 watts of energy. KPMG’s Green Tax Index 2013 reported that South Africa is the 13th most active country in its attempts to reduce carbon emissions. As an industry we are playing our part in this worthy endeavour.