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HEGLA and AGC Partner on Looking at Reuse of Glass

Hegla and AGC partnered on insulating glass reuse. Officials cite the increasing volume of double and triple-insulating glass as an incentive for the partnership. As more units are produced at an increased speed and cost, with the corresponding amount of waste, the number of insulating glass panes needing to be replaced at the end of their service lives is also increasing, say officials. In the best-case scenario, these panes find their way to a recycling specialist, who will shred them and process them for reuse. But only a fraction has found its way back to the flat glass tank furnace, thereby completing the cycle of valuable resources.

"In view of the increases in energy and raw glass prices and the apparent need for high-quality fragments for flat glass production, we began to think about how to gain value from end-of-life or faulty insulating glass," says Dr. Markus Schoisswohl, managing director at Hegla New Technology.

The solution

To take a holistic view of the value stream, Hegla and AGC have joined forces in a development partnership, where AGC will focus on the supply chain, while Hegla will be responsible for the development of machine technology.

The first stage is IG2Pieces, a machine that allows insulating glass elements to be separated while preserving the size of the glass. To do this, the machine cuts around the edges of the insulating glass, allowing the largely intact panes to be separated from the frame. These separated fractions have greater value than insulating glass units that have been discarded without being separated.

"We decided to partner with Hegla in this cooperation as we were looking for additional, high-quality fragments to feed into our flat glass tank furnaces," says Geoffroy van der Rest, project lead at AGC.

"For the production of panes alone, there was no reason to preserve the glass intact," explains Schoisswohl. "Our vision was also to establish a seamless separation process, where panes of incorrectly produced or faulty insulating glass could be reused in new insulating glass elements."

More about IG2Pieces

Manual separation of insulating glass requires manual dexterity and is a time-consuming process, so it tends to be used only for elements with high added value. IG2Pieces makes it economical, especially considering increasing raw glass prices, with the added benefit of improved separation quality. In addition, the machine also contributes to increased demand for circularity in terms of reuse. Panes are separated from end-of-life insulating glass and reprocessed so that they can be prepared for a new lease on life.

AGC and Hegla are looking forward to the months ahead, during which the machine will be thoroughly tested and analyzed within the value stream. 

"With IG2Pieces as a starting point, we are committed to the responsible development of flat glass processing. We are grateful for the collaboration with AGC, which allows us to not only offer machine solutions but to give our customers a direct buyer for the ensuing product as well," says Bernhard Hötger, CEO of Hegla.