Ekko Waste Solutions is a multi-award winning innovative glass recycling expert which has developed bespoke glass bottle crushing machines, glass collection vehicles and systems which make closed loop glass recycling a reality. Scotland is a land of innovation, what other small country can boast the invention of the telephone, the television, the light bulb, the pneumatic tyre, bicycles, roads, logarithms, the refridgerator, MRI scanners, the bank machine, PIN numbers and even penicillin? In a recent study scientists tried to explain this inventive anomaly with various theories including the high level of rainfall, a natural curiosity, a good education system and even the wonders of Scotch Whisky. Ekko now have the case studies, the recognition, the expertise, the experience, the knowledge and the ability to replicate this system in its entirety in other markets across the world.
When it comes to Ekko Waste Solutions and our award winning closed loop glass crushers and systems the answer is more obvious. The Scottish Government had a vision for a zero waste society and set out a Zero Waste Plan to make sure Scotland benefited from the economic and environmental advantages to be gained.
With a target set for 70% of all Scotland’s waste to be recycled by 2025 the government introduced regulations to support separate collections of waste from commercial premises encouraging recycling, recovery and diversion from landfill.
The Waste (Scotland) Regulations came into force on the 1st of January 2014 and commercial premises had to present their waste in 4 streams – general waste, dry mixed recyclate, food & glass.
Overnight the streets and lanes of Scotland were over-run with an army of multi-coloured bins and waste collectors were forced to visit their customers on four different occassions to collect the waste in separate vehicles. The result was congestion and increased pollution. In addition to this Edinburgh City Council imposed a “streetscene” policy which outlawed waste bins from commercial outlets being kept on public land.
With many commercial businesses occupying city centre buildings which were not designed for high levels of waste throughput, space became a premium.
Ekko Waste Solutions had by this time developed its unique 8th generation mobile glass crusher which reduced the volume of the glass waste by up to 80% and produced glass “supercullet” which is certified to be 94.8% recyclable. The glass bottle crushing unit was designed to be located and used anywhere that produced post-consumer glass waste including bars, clubs, restaurants, hotels, shopping centres, airports and railway stations.
Ekko had also invested in designing, developing and producing efficient custom built trucks with small bodies and high payloads to collect glass in high density built up areas where congestion, pollution and access is often an issue. With the equipment and infrastructure developed and ready to go Ekko Waste Solutions grew rapidly, offering equipment and services that were unique. Ekko soon discovered that their advanced systems and vehicles also worked extremely well for traditional glass collections and Ekko started collecting glass waste for National and Regional waste companies that did not have their own developed glass waste infrastructure.
Ekko created a network of tipping points with a small footprint where glass was bulked up to be transported to a central dockside location ready for export to European countries for processing back into bottles. This changed when a sophisticated glass processing plant was built in Central Scotland and opened in 2015. Capable of processing 140,000 tonnes of glass each year this plant was built to feed the large Whisky industry that Scotland is famed for. With advanced optical sorting using laser technology this plant can sort mixed glass as small as 4mm into its individual colours ready for recycling. This made closed loop glass remelt for recycling a reality in Scotland.
Ekko now have the case studies, the recognition, the expertise, the experience, the knowledge and the ability to replicate this system in its entirety in other markets across the world. The benefits are many.
From Innovation to Commercialisation to Participation!
Ekko Waste Solutions was founded on a vision. To create a closed loop circular glass economy using glass crushers that produced processor friendly crushed glass. The benefits were obvious but the reality was not as simple. Glass crushers are not a new idea, originally they were designed for the marine market and their purpose was to crush glass bottles into the smallest possible pieces to reduce storage space. The machines were large, expensive, noisy, unreliable and frightening to use. The glass cullet produced was closer to sand than recyclable cullet and was generally landfilled or used in aggregate applications.
Some companies took the 'Glass crushing' concept and tried to apply it to the leisure and hospitality markets, where the idea of reducing storage space and waste collections were warmly received. Unfortunately the glass crushing machines were ill suited to this new environment and existing waste companies did not want to reduce their collections by 80% and lose valuable revenue. The glass processors were also against this method of glass waste management as historically the material produced had been too small to recycle and contaminated glass stocks. It was a false dawn!
The concept, however was a good one and Ekko Waste Solutions was founded with a clear vision. To make it a reality!
It was clear from the outset that the concept required a new and innovative approach. The Directors of Ekko decided to look at glass waste management in its entirety and approach it from a new and different perspective.
The Glass Crusher
For the glass crushing concept to work the resulting glass pieces had to be large enough for the glass processors to separate it by colour and small enough to give a worthwhile reduction in glass volume. Ekko Waste Solutions worked in close collaboration with the glass recycling industry to perfect the size of the glass pieces. “Supercullet”
Ekko were also aware that the equipment needed to be ergonomically designed to ensure compatibility with the target sectors and positive interaction with the end user. Having surveyed the end user Ekko were aware that most machines are used by multiple people with varying ethnic and linguistic backgrounds.
We were also aware that some of the glass crushers on the market did not fully meet modern Health & Safety guidelines, working closely with Health and Safety consultants we ensured that the Ekko Glass Crusher complied with the essential requirements of European health, safety and environmental protection legislation and the relevant product directives.
We then worked with the best engineers in order to develop the Ekko Glass Crushing machine . The current machine is 8th generation and is the result of many years and 50,000 tonnes of evaluation, all of which was carried out “live” in outlet in a commercial setting.
The Ekko Glass Collection
At the beginning of our innovation journey, we discovered that for a variety of reasons traditional waste management companies were not willing to collect crushed glass as it reduced their valuable revenue. We decided to set up our own trade waste glass collection service and applied the same methodology to glass collections as we had to glass crushing equipment. The first thing we looked at was the types of refuse vehicles that were available, we could not find a vehicle that was fit for purpose so we decided to develop our own vehicle and custom build the ideal glass collection truck.This vehicle has a lightweight chassis, is 70% smaller than standard refuse vehicles, meets Euro6 emission levels and can access tight lanes and service areas. When carrying crushed glass our trucks reduce congestion and logistics related pollution by 80%
Since 2010 we have consistently invented and reinvented our equipment and systems building the ultimate glass waste management model. This innovative approach has allowed us to run Ekko Waste Solutions as a commercial business organisation that has operated profitably despite large Research & Development costs. We have successfully proven our equipment and systems and created a genuine closed loop circular economy in Scotland. This has been documented by Zero Waste Scotland and recognised by Scottish Enterprise, ECCI, The Rushlights Awards, The National Recycling Awards and The RBS/Business Insider awards for Product Development and Resource Management.
Commercialisation to Participation
We have proven our Ekko Glass Crushing equipment and Ekko Glass recycling systems in the United Kingdom and created a circular economy. Our vision is now to replicate The Ekko Glass recycling system in relevant markets across the world and share the benefits both environmentally and financially.
Ekko Waste Solutions have developed a closed loop circular economy for recycling glass using glass crushing machines. This means that every bottle crushed and collected will be successfully recycled back into a high value glass product for reuse and at the end of its useful life it can be recycled again creating a circular economy. In an ideal world this takes place in the same region or country reducing unnecessary logistical movements and pollution.
In addition to this we have achieved this for both tradtional and crushed glass collections thanks to our unique glass crushing machine and our custom built collection vehicles. Such is the success of our system that Ekko is one of the fastest growing specialised glass collection companies in the UK. You can visit our 'Who we work with page' to see the extent of our success with local, regional and national companies that purchase our equipment or employ our services. Indeed many other waste management companies now use Ekko Waste Solutions as ther glass division, subcontracting all their glass collection work to us.
In new and developing markets we have the experience and expertise to meet with government bodies and waste management companies, assess market conditions and advise on required infrastructure, types of vehicles, equipment, systems and best end use of the glass. We can even build a glass processing plant!
What are the environmental benefits of Ekko Glass closed-loop glass recycling?
Apart from the economic benefits, recycling glass will also help to minimise your business' negative environmental impact. It is important to consider the way in which your glass is being recycled. If your glass is being recycled into more glass bottles & jars (i.e. closed-loop recycling) then for every tonne you recycle you are saving 314kg of CO2 from going into the atmosphere. However, if your glass is going into aggregate markets then the Co2 saving is negligible. It is therefore important to ask your waste contractor what happens to your glass when it is collected.
Ekko Glass Crusher Benefits
- You don’t need to separate your glass bottles by colour
- You don’t need to remove fruit, straws, labels or caps from bottles
- Ekko glass crushers reduces required glass waste storage by up to 80%
- Crushed glass is quiet to uplift – no more angry neighbours or guests!
- Crushing glass removes dangerous bottles from the streets making nights out safer
- Crushed glass means less refuse uplifts, less refuse vehicles, less congestion, less fuel wasted, less pollution.
- Ekko glass crushers can be used to facilitate reverse haulage for glass waste.
- Helps outlets meet Corporate Social Responsibility objectives and qualifies towards environmental awards.
Ekko Glass closed loop recycling saves raw materials
To create one tonne of new glass required 1.2 tonnes of raw material to be quarried. The quarrying of these materials reduces the worlds natural resources unnecessarily and creates unnecessary pollution caused by the quarying equipment and the logistics required to transport the raw materials to the glass manufacturers. Glass is infinitley recyclable and does not biodegrade when landfilled. It is a useful resource that we should recycle and use again and again.
Did you know?
Making glass bottles and jars from recycled Ekko 'Super cullet' not only reduces logistics related pollution by 80% but reduces the temperature required during the glass making process. This in turn produces energy savings, for each bottle recycled you could,
- Power a Tesal S car for 0.38 miles
- Charge an Ipad for 9 hours
- Power an LED television screen for 4 hours
- Power a low energy light bulb for 15 hours.
Progress so far
The great thing about glass and the Ekko Glass recycling system is that glass can be recycled indefinitely without ever losing its clarity or purity. Thanks to companies like Ekko Waste Solutions, glass manufactured in the UK contain recycled content already. On average :
- Clear bottles are made of 29% recycled glass
- Brown bottles are made of 25% recycled glass
- Green bottles are made of 71% recycled glass