Glass packaging in North America is a multi-billion industry with demand for glass continuing to rise steadily in many industries including beverage, food, and pharmaceuticals. Fortunately, glass bottles and containers are completely recyclable and can retain their properties after many rounds of recycling.
Read on to learn more about recycling glass for better management of your glass packaging.
Glass Recycling Benefits
Glass recycling confers numerous economic, social, and environmental benefits.
Carbon Footprint Reduction
Figures from the Glass Packaging Institute show that recycling up to 34 percent of all glass containers in the country is equivalent to reducing the number of cars on the road by 210,000 each year.
On average, a single passenger car produces 4.6 metric tons of carbon dioxide each year, according to the United States Environmental Protection Agency. Taking 210,000 cars out of the road each year can reduce the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere significantly.
Like reducing the number of vehicles on the road, glass recycling can deliver significant carbon footprint reduction.
The Container Recycling Institute posits that commercial glass bottles and container collection systems create 11 to 38 more direct jobs than home-based recycling. At the same time, recycling 1,000 tons of glass adds at least 8 jobs into the economy.
For manufacturers, using recycled glass minimizes emissions, reduces the use of raw materials needed to produce glass packaging, and helps to realize energy savings.
When developing new glass, manufacturers use recycled glass as well. By using recycled glass to produce new glass, manufacturers reduce the energy used by the smelting furnace, therefore minimizing overhead costs and boosting profit margins all while protecting the environment.
Glass Recycling Preparation
When starting a glass-recycling program at home or in the office, bear in mind that not all glass is recyclable. While many glass beverage bottles and packaging containers are recyclable, broken glass is usually not.
Dispose of large pieces of glass by crushing the glass, wrapping it in a cloth, placing the glass in a box, sealing the box, and placing the box in the garbage for collection.
To make a real impact with your glass-recycling program, be sure to follow certain best practices. Keep your glass bottles and containers intact because commercial recyclers do not take in broken glass.
Remove the caps and corks from bottles and containers. You may leave labels on-these will not hamper the recycling process. Be sure to empty the liquid content in bottles.
Avoid mixing glass items such as windows, mirrors, and glassware with glass bottles and containers, as these cannot be recycled together.
Glass Recycling Process
The process of recycling glass is simple to ensure minimal energy use and to lower the recycling plant's carbon footprint. Generally, glass recycling entails the following steps:
- Placement of glass into designated bins
- Collection of bins and transportation to a recycling plant
- Recycling plant sorts and separates glass by color
- Recycling plant crushes, melts, and molds recycled glass into bottles and containers. The recycled glass may serve other manufacturing purposes other than packaging
- Recycling plant distributes recycled bottles and containers to product manufacturers
- Consumers purchase food and drinks in glass containers and bottles and the cycle continues
Some recycled glass containers are too contaminated to be used in the manufacture of new glass packaging. Instead, manufacturers purify and use this type of recyclable but contaminated glass elsewhere such as in manufacturing flooring materials.
Glass is here to stay. Fortunately, glass is not adversely impactful as plastic is to the environment. When you implement a glass-recycling program in your household, community, or workplace, you will be making a positive impact on the environment and the economy.
At Ranch Town Recycling Center, we accept glass bottles and containers for recycling. Get in touch with us today if you want to unload your glass containers safely, efficiently, and sustainably.