Float and patterned-glass manufacturer PFG currently generates about 30% less waste for every 1 000 t that it melts, compared with the waste it generated seven years ago, owing to the manufacturer’s glass recovery and reclamation facility, says PFG sales director Bob van Schelt.
The facility, in Springs, Ekurhuleni, has been improved incrementally since it was established five years ago to increase the company’s throughput and efficiency. It recovers and reprocesses broken windscreens and waste glass and is a standalone plant with its own equipment, infrastructure and staff.
Van Schelt explains that the recovered glass is reused in the raw material mix for the manufacture of flat glass, adding that it is more efficient to melt broken glass than the raw sand needed to create the raw material mix – hence, the cost and energy saving.
He says glass from broken windscreens and waste, known as cullet, is collected from various glass operations across the country and brought to PFG’s facility.
Van Schelt tells Engineering News that the facility enables PFG to recover an average of 40 000 broken windscreens every month.
He says the broken windscreens are sourced nationwide from various participating independent glass operators. Dedicated pickup bins are stationed at strategic locations in most provinces, making it convenient for contributors to discard their broken windscreens, broken glass and offcuts.
“The bins are collected at no cost to contributors. The only requirement is that the glass remains uncontaminated, as nonglass waste severely jeopardises the glass-manufacturing process,” says Van Schelt.
He adds that the broken windscreens are crushed at the reclamation plant to separate the vinyl from the glass. The recovered glass is then added to the primary raw material batch.
“About 25% of glass is produced from cullet. Windscreen cullet comprises up to 1.8% of the glass produced,” says Van Schelt, adding that the use of reclaimed cullet translates into an energy saving of 2%, together with the benefit of significantly reducing the amount of waste sent to landfills, as only the vinyl is discarded.
PFG is a division of glass merchant PG Group. It is a manufacturer of float glass, laminated glass, patterned glass and mirrors. The company produces 260 000 t of float glass a year, along with 26 000 t of patterned or rolled glass at its manufacturing facility.