Glass Recycling

Glass recycling: How does it work?Glass is perhaps one of the most commonly recycled goods in the world. In the United Kingdom, we recycle about 50% of the glass that we produce, which is, in comparison to other forms of recycling at least, a rather high figure. However, it is nowhere near the level of other countries in Europe. That being said, this number is going up on a yearly basis.

Glass is collected from glass banks. You can take your glass there. It is likely that you will be asked to put it in very specific banks based upon colour (clear glass and green glass will have two distinct banks). It is not a vital part of the process as many places where the glass is taken nowadays will have some sort of colour sorting process in place.

Once the glass has been collected from a bottle bank, it will be taken to a processing plant. It will then be crushed up and washed to ensure that all of the contaminants will be removed. The next stage will be dependent on the quality of the glass and what is likely to happen to in the future. It will, however, most likely be mixed up with some new raw materials to change the colour of the glass or to enhance its properties a little.

After this, it will be melted into a furnace before being moulded into new glass bottles or jars. The recycling process is, in comparison to paper recycling or plastic recycling processes, fairly quick and a lot of recycling can be processed on a daily basis.

There are a number of reasons as to why you would want to recycle glass. As you may well know, glass is made up of just four components:

  • Sand
  • Soda ash
  • Limestone
  • Colouring

Now, we are not depleting the world’s resources at the moment. When was the last time you saw a lack of sand around? However, the actual getting to the materials can be quite resource intensive and will result in a lot of pollution being pumped into the atmosphere. Recycling means that new materials will not have to be sourced all that much. This will, in turn, lead to less pollution.

Of course, why not recycle glass? Unlike other items, it is 100% recyclable, over and over again. It can be put through the process as many times as you like and there will be no reduction in quality at all. This will ensure that glass production is not consuming fossil fuels and reduces the amount of gasses being pumped into the atmosphere.

The only real issue we have with the glass recycling process at the moment is the fact that the quality of glass that is collected may not be all that great. This is down to contaminants. If this happens, the glass is simply removed from the process. There is no environmental benefit to this happening as this glass will probably just end up in a landfill somewhere where it will not have a benefit.

Return to facts about recycling