Glass is used for a huge variety of items. From perfume bottles through to window panes, itâ€™s so common that we donâ€™t even give it a second thought. In 2009, the U.S. public generated 11.8 million tons of waste glass, and only around 25% of this was recycled.
Can glass be recycled?
A great amount of glass can be recycled. Pretty much all glass which is used as packaging can be recycled. This includes soda bottles, jelly jars and most food and drink containers. These food and beverage containers can be recycled many times over, and there is really no need at all for these to end up in landfill
All towns and cities offer recycling facilities for glass. If you are unsure of the closest to where you live, visit www.earth911.com and enter your zip code.
What are the possibilities for the recycled glass?
Most food and drink containers are recycled and once again turned into more containers. But it is possible for glass to be put to other use, such as wall and cavity insulation, kitchen tiles and even counter tops.
Glass is possibly one of the easiest items to recycle as many schemes have been put in place. Over the past 30 years, glass recycling in the U.S. has risen from 750,000 tons per year to over 3 million tons. And the amount is growing.
Recycled and crushed glass is known as â€˜cullet.â€™ Most glass manufacturers now rely on cullet to supplement the virgin materials they use to produce new glass. Because of this the demand for recycled glass just keeps growing and the supply of cullet is less than the demand.
Cullet can also be used in the production of fiberglass, abrasives and the tips of matches. However, the cullet has to be free from any contaminates which will make it less useful in many areas of manufacturing.
But what about the resources used in the recycling process?
The main problem with recycling glass is the different qualities which are used. When glass is collected at the curbside or in recycling centers, it is usually collected altogether. However, itâ€™s important to sort your glass into different colors as these all have different melting points. Glass which is sorted by color makes cullet of a higher standard, and therefore has a higher value. This is why on glass recycling banks you have separate areas for clear, green and brown glass.
Using cullet helps the environment by melting at a lower temperature than the raw materials needed to make glass. This means less greenhouse gas emissions and it also saves the necessity of using raw materials. It is also cheaper to recycle than to produce new glass.