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Home > Garbage and Recycling > Recyclable Materials > Glass

Garbage and Recycling: Recyclable Materials: Glass

some glass
All glass is not the same. Here are some ways that glass is being recycled.

 

Overview:
Common glass (bottles and jars) is about 75% Silica (SiO2). The rest is soda ash (Na2O), lime (CaO), with other minor additives. To make glass from virgin materials these ingredients need to be heated to over 1200 oC (2200 oF) depending on the glass. That means the energy requirements are very high.
     Common (container) glass has a very different chemistry than other glass, like windshields, Pyrex and fiberglass. If the glass types stay separated it is 100% recyclable over and over again. If recycled glass where to go into making new bottles and jars, it generally saves 20% or more of the energy used by the manufacturer (depending on the mix).
     Here are the questions we will answer in this section:
  • What does "glass recycling" mean?

  • What shouldn't I put in the recycle bin?

  • How can I recycle glass in my local area?

What does "glass recycling" mean?
Glass recycling is repurposing discarded glass, diverting it from the landfill. While a lot of discarded glass is re-melted into new glass bottles and jars that is not its only use. 
     Re-melting into new bottles and jars. This involves high separation standards because whole batches of glass can be ruined from just a little contamination. The glass that comes into recyclers is cleaned, separated and crushed into a fine "kiln ready" powder (cullet). This cullet is then introduced into the rest of the glass melt (25% to 70%) which lowers the melt temperature of the batch. This is why so much energy can be saved from recycling glass. For more on this process here is a Wikipedia link.
     Alternative uses:   There is a great variety of other uses for discarded glass and people are finding new uses all the time. For now, we will just mention a use and provide a link for more information. Counter tops look sharp and can be the focal point of your kitchen. Road aggregate, yes you can drive on glass (and many discarded ceramics are also being used). Landscaping or "Greenscaping" for all your outdoor projects. Eye glasses are collected and given to people with poor site here and abroad. Flooring tiles come in many colors and are a great addition to your home (businesses) green construction or remodeling plans. Even vehicle windshields are finding new purposes. And that is just the tip of the iceberg. 
Why should alternative forms of recycling be embraced? As stated earlier, making new glass bottles and jars saves energy. The argument becomes a little less viable when the recycled jars and bottles have to travel hundreds or thousands of miles away to a glass bottle manufacturer. Sending the glass to a closer location for whatever reason can save a lot of energy as well.
     The other side of this argument, however, is that the alternative products need to have a market. If they have a market, then what about "end of life" for these new products? Can these be repurposed into other things? Common container glass can be recycled over and over again. These alternative products should have a path to recycling after use as well.

What shouldn't I put into the recycle bin?
You can drop off your glass discards at your local recycler, a local bin, or have it picked up curbside. Most of what is taken in these avenues is "container" (bottles and jars) type of glass. Some will have you separate it by color and some will not. Mostly, they want you to keep out all other types of glass.
     Some examples of what not to put in the bin are: Pyrex, window, light bulbs, eyeglasses, windshield, fiberglass, light fixtures, table ware (glasses and dishes), cookware (casserole dishes, pots and Dutch ovens), pottery, sinks. Check with your recycler for details.

How can I recycle glass in my local area?
For most people, the easiest glass to recycle is the "container" glass (bottles and jars). If you are looking for ways to have your other glass repurposed there are several resources to check out. The best place to start is with your garbage service provider. Others are mentioned below.

 

Items in our "Waste and Recycling" section.

  • Recycle Centers:
    Home Recycling ________________
  • Composters:
    Home Recycling ________________
  • Vermicomposters:
    Home Recycling ________________
  • Garbage Bags:
    Home Recycling ________________
  • Recycle Kits:
    Home Recycling ________________

 

 

Glossary of Terms:

Cullet: Ground glass that is "kiln ready". A very fine powder.

Fused Silica Glass: Made from SiO2, used for high temperature applications.

Soda-lime-silica glass: Used for containers, windows, tableware and light bulbs. Ingredients: Silica (72%), Sodium Oxide (14.2%), Magnesia (2.5%), Lime (10%).

Aluminosilicate glass: Used for fiber glass, halogen bulbs, and reinforcing materials (boats, fishing rods). Silica (57%), Alumina (16%), Boric Oxide (4.0%), Barium Oxide (6.0%), Magnesia (7.0%) and Lime (10%).
Sodium borosilicate glass: Pyrex. Made from Silica (81%) + Boric Oxide (12%), Soda (4.5%), Alumina (2%).

Lead-oxide glass: Leaded Crystal. Made from Silica (59%), Soda (2.0%), Lead Oxide (25%), Potassium Oxide (12%), Alumina (0.4%), Zinc Oxide (1.5%)

Oxide glass: Fiber optics. Alumina (90%), Germanium Oxide (10%).

Kiln: a furnace or oven for burning, baking, or drying something, especially one for firing pottery, calcining limestone, or baking bricks.

References:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glass, Glass, Wikipedia, taken 3/24/13.

http://earth911.com/recycling/glass/, Glass, Earth911, taken 3/25/13.

http://www.angieslist.com/articles/are-recycled-glass-countertops-good-granite-alternative.htm, Are recycled glass counter tops a good granite alternative?, Angie's List, taken 3/26/13.

http://www.spokesman.com/stories/2009/oct/02/city-street-paved-in-crushed-glass/, City using crushed glass for road building, Spokesman Review, taken 3/26/13.

http://www.epa.gov/epawaste/conserve/tools/greenscapes/index.htm, Greenscapes, EPA, taken 3/26/13.

http://earth911.com/recycling/household/eyeglasses/tips-for-recycling-eyeglasses/, Tips for recycling eye glasses, Earth911, taken 3/26/13.

http://recycling.about.com/od/Singlestreamrecycling/a/Windshield-Recycling-Programs-Launched.htm, Windshield recycling programs launched, About.com, 3/26/13.

http://earth911.com/news/2008/09/08/theres-glass-and-then-theresthe-other-kind-of-glass/, There's glass and then there's ..., Earth911, taken 3/26/13