SUEZ revolutionizes glass recycling in Belgium and achieves savings in several areas

To address the circular economy challenges, SUEZ designed in 2014 the first glass recycling plant in the world able to sort four separate qualities of glass and produce a very high quality secondary raw material. A pioneer in glass recycling in Europe, the High 5 plant offers the glass industry the opportunity to produce glass with 90% recycled raw materials and at the same time reduce its energy consumption and its carbon footprint.
The mission

Increase the proportion of recycled material in glass production to optimize recycling 

Producing glass packaging using recycled glass requires that the broken glass (granulate) be of the same colour (colourless, green or brown). To supply the glass industry with secondary raw materials, traditional glass recycling plants are obliged to alternate production between clear glass and coloured glass, which limits their productivity.

It is to meet this challenge that SUEZ established High 5 Recycling Group with its industrial partner SIBELCO GREEN SOLUTIONS, leading global supplier of mineral products to the glass industry. Their objective is to optimise the production of recycled glass to enable the glass industry to:

  • produce new glass packaging using a higher portion of recycled glass
  • reduce its use of mineral raw materials, its energy consumption and its carbon footprint
The surface area of the High 5 site in Antwerp.
of glass are recycled by High 5 annually
Our solution

Separate glass qualities and multiply savings

With High 5 in Antwerp, Belgium, SUEZ has revolutionised glass recycling. As a pioneer in glass recovery in Europe, High 5 is the first plant in the world capable of separating incoming glass into four distinct qualities: colourless, green, amber and "dead leaf".
For glass makers, a secondary raw material of exceptional quality
A battery of latest-generation optical sorting machines purifies and separates broken glass according to their colour:
  • it purifies broken glass and eliminates the infusible residues unsuitable for glass production (crystal, stone, porcelain, vitro-ceramic);
  • broken glass is finely sorted by colour for high-quality granulate;
  • the fineness of optical sorting enables the creation of a new colour of granulate, dead leaf, highly appreciated by glass makers.
  • The properties of the granulate produced by High 5 enable a significantly higher proportion of recycled glass in the production of glass packaging.

Substantial savings, preserved natural mineral resources
  • Glass sorting by colour done by High 5 simplifies not only glass recycling but also its collection by municipal authorities, which is done by separate colours in most European countries.
  • The granulate produced by the plant enables glass makers to reduce the number of transformation phases required, consumes fewer natural mineral resources and less energy. 
The results
The High 5 sorting plant in Antwerp is a perfect demonstration of the principles of the circular economy: recover waste and produce a high quality secondary raw material. The leading edge technologies developed by SUEZ in this latest generation plant have generated significant progress in glass recycling performance.

The Belgian plant has made it possible to produce 230,000 tonnes of granulate, the equivalent of 470 million new 75 cl bottles. It is an exceptional opportunity to preserve natural resources while reducing the carbon footprint of production, with savings of:
  • 220,000 tonnes of virgin raw materials (sand, sodium carbonate, lime);
  • 100,000 tonnes of CO2 due to the melting of a lower quantity of raw materials containing carbonate;
  • 321,000 MWh of energy, or the amount consumed annually by 37,000 people;
  • 257,400 m3 of water or the amount consumed annually 4,200 people.
colours of glass can be recycled simultaneously using the new-generation optical sorting technology.