millions of tons of waste annually, glass is one of the most
commonly recycled materials.
Manufacturers use glass to contain numerous consumer
products from food to perfume.
The largest source of recycled glass comes from food and
percent of glass that enters the waste stream is recycled.
such as furniture, appliances, and electronics, also contribute
to post-consumer glass waste.
glass to manufacture new glass containers saves energy and money
otherwise spent by obtaining raw materials.
In addition to
food and beverage containers, cullet can be used as aggregates,
decoration, fiberglass, and tile.
Glass can be
recycled numerous times to recreate similar containers from
which they originated. Container glass is the only type that is
reprocessed by bottling plants.
produced by recycled glass heats at a lower temperature than
virgin material, requiring less energy.
Some areas have
access to a portable glass crusher.
This machine is mobile and can process glass cullet
on-site, increasing the efficiency of using cullet for
from consumers is separated by color or type at a processing
centers require separation
before drop-off or pick-up.
containers are moved under a magnet to remove metal materials.
types of contaminants are removed manually.
Contaminants are a major issue when recycling glass.
Ceramics, plastic, tin, aluminum, light bulbs, and Pyrex
can all contaminate glass.
containers are then crushed into small pieces called cullet.
Cullet is combined with sand, soda ash, and limestone
then heated to create a shapeable new container.
USES FOR RECYCLED GLASS
Much of recycled glass is used to re-create beverage
are, however, numerous other uses for recycled glass that have
been explored within the past decade.
A number of manufacturers have explored using glass
cullet in combination with other materials to create counter
tops, doors, windows, and tile.
Some manufacturers have used colored glass as an additive
Others use ground glass as an aggregate in cement, replacing
sandstone. Many manufacturers using glass as an aggregate in
cement found an improvement in strength, abrasion, and unwanted
Companies have explored the use of ground glass in
sandblasting for industrial cleaning, including buildings and
ship hulls. Manufacturers who encourage the use of glass instead
of sand emphasize a fewer number of worker health issues and
fewer environmental safety issues.
A significant percent of recycled glass is used to create
fiberglass materials used in batt and roll insulation.
Numerous manufacturers have used glass cullet as an
aggregate in asphalt, as well as mixing larger pieces in for
sidewalks and trails.
Local and state governments have also used cullet in
highway and roadbed construction.
Numerous art foundries and programs use whole glass
containers and cullet to create sculptures, wind chimes, and
gift boxes. Some
educational organizations also teach and promote
blowing, utilizing recycled cullet.
Some independent companies are successfully fashioning
bowls, plates, and glassware out of recycled cullet.