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Glass Recycling

Glass will never wear out and great thing about it is that it can be recycled over and over again. 1 It is one of the few materials that can be recycled without losing its strength, purity and quality.2 Glass recycling is a process wherein the waste glass is turned into usable products, such as glass coasters, windows, bottles, and more, . Glass waste should be separated according to chemical content, usage and into different colors. Most individuals who recycle glass collect different colors of glass separately because glass retains its color after recycling.2

Importance of Recycling Glass

It is important to recycle glass because it is definitely 100 percent recyclable and can be recycled endlessly without affecting its purity and quality. 2 The vital part of any community recycling program is glass bottles and glass jars.2

Glass manufacturers need a high-quality recycled container glass in order to meet the market demands for new glass containers. Recycled glass or cullet is always part of the ingredient which also includes sand, soda ash and limestone. 2 The more cullet that is being used, there will greater reduction of energy being used which will lead to a lower manufacturing costs and gives good benefits to the environment.2

Process of Recycling Glass

In glass recycling, the glass goes through several processes before it can become a new product.

Glass Collection

The very first process is to collect glass from consumers and take it to the glass recycling centers.

Sorting of glass collected

Sorting is the process wherein the unwanted glass is to be sorted according to their colors. This process is done because different chemicals need to be added to different colored waste glass in order to produce recycled glass according to the desired color.3

Producing glass cullet

The next stage after sorting in the glass recycle process includes crushing and grinding the waste glass into small pieces. The finely crushed glass pieces are called the cullet.3

Removing the glass contaminants

After producing cullet, the next stage in the glass recycling process involves the removal of contaminants away from the glass cullet.

The glass cullet is then passed through a magnetic field, wherein the metal contaminants like metal bottle caps are being removed from the glass. 3 Other contaminants such as paper and plastic are being taken out manually or through an automated procedure.3

Making of the recycled glass

The cullet is melted and then it can be used for manufacturing recycled glass products such as new glass containers, jars, bottles and many more.3

Making recycled glass products

The last stage for the glass recycling process is that the recycled glass whether colored or cleared, is then molded or shaped into various glass products and being sold in the market.

Facts about recycling glass

One interesting thing about glass recycling is that glass never decomposes and that it can be recycled hundred times without affecting its quality.3

Products made from Recycled Glass?

The top value products that are made from recycled glass are the new glass bottles and jars. 4 Another high end value product is the fiberglass insulation. Both of these products need recycled glass that is color-sorted and no contaminants.4

The glass that does not meet the requirements to create new glass containers can be used for various for secondary applications such as countertops and floors, landscaping, tiles and ingredient for roadway products.4

Benefits of Glass Recycling

Actually glass is one of the most common and easiest materials to be recycled and it is found everywhere from wine bottles to tables. Here are some benefits that we can get out from recycling glasses:

Energy Conservation

The primary natural resources in making a glass are sand, soda ash and limestone. 5 Glass manufacturers use these resources with cullet. In using more cullet, it lessens the energy being used in collecting raw materials, and that cullet has a lower melting point compared to other things. In recycling one glass bottle, it saves enough energy in order to power a computer for about 30 minutes and a television for 20 minutes.5

Reduced Landfills

According to the Glass Packing Institute, using 50 percent recycled glass in order to make new glass bottles or containers will reduce around more than 180,000 tons of glass from landfills every month. 5 In 2013, glass producers plan to meet the target of using 50 percent recycled glass in making all new glasses. 5 This target is very important since glass bottles don't decompose easily specifically in landfills.

Cleaner Environment

Nitrogen oxide and carbon dioxide, both dangerous greenhouse gases, are being emitted during the manufacturing of a glass 5 In using recycled glass it reduces energy needed to manufacture glass products so it also lessens the emissions of these gases.

Resource Preservation

Glass has to be quarried and this has a great impact on the environment that can be reduced by increasing the number of cullet in making new glass. In recycling 1 ton of glass conserve about 1 ton of raw materials.5

References:

1. http://www.lehighcounty.org/Departments/SolidWasteManagement/RecyclingFacts/Glass/tabid/521/Default.aspx
2. http://www.absoluteastronomy.com/topics/Glass_recycling
3. http://www.all-recycling-facts.com/glass-recycle.html
4. http://earth911.com/recycling/glass/
5. http://www.livestrong.com/article/136269-benefits-recycling-glass/