Recycling Glass Containers
What do you need to know about recycled glass?
GLASS FACT: Currently 10 U.S. states offer a small cash refund for turning in glass bottles to drop-off centers. The states are: CA, CT, HI, IA, ME, MA, MI, NY, OR, VT.
The glass container market share of municipal solid waste has declined as lightweight aluminum and plastic containers replaced heavier glass bottles. This trend continues. Glass was 10 percent of MSW generation in 1980, declining to 4.6 percent in 2011.
Of the 11.57 million tons of glass produced in 2012, 9.38 million tons were used in creating containers or packaging. Close to 80 percent were glass beverage containers, and the remaining 20 percent were mostly glass food containers. In total, only 27.7 percent of the total glass generated as recycled. Glass container manufacturers want to increase their use of recycled glass (or cullet) to make new glass products. Recycled glass is less expensive than raw materials and saves energy, promoting a greener environment.
Glass recycling is important in reducing overall volume in landfills as well as saving energy and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Glass does not burn in waste-to-energy facilities, instead it forms a slag. Recycling is a good alternative because, like aluminum, glass can be recycled over and over again with no loss in quality or purity. Recycled glass from containers and bottles can be made into new glass jars and bottles, fiberglass insulation, kitchen tiles, concrete pavement, and much more.
What is glass?
Glass is made from sand, limestone, soda ash, cullet (recycled glass bottles), and various additives, including those used to color glass brown, green or blue. Glass bottles and jars are the most commonly recycled glass.
How is glass recycled?
Preparing glass containers for recycling is relatively simple. Remove lids and caps, and rinse the containers in water. Check with your local recycler to see if you are required to sort glass by color. Most curbside glass recycling is commingled (meaning glass of different colors is collected together.) Note: Some types of glass cannot be recycled, such as light bulbs, ceramics, glass mirrors, window glass and ovenware.
The Numbers: Glass
- Generated glass in 2012: 11.57 million tons / Recycled: 3.2 million tons (27.7%).
- 26% of glass bottles produced in the United States contains recycled content.
- Source reduction: Glass bottles now weigh 50 percent less than they did in 1970.