As you set New Year’s resolutions for 2017, consider including a goal to help the environment. One great idea is to push recycling to the top of your priority list, especially glass bottles and jars.
Why Recycle Glass?
Recycling glass is easy, and it offers many benefits:
- Preserve material quality: Glass can be recycled infinite times without losing its purity or functionality.
- Save raw materials: Reusing glass conserves the natural resources that go into making new glass, including sand, soda ash, limestone, and feldspar.
- Decrease energy demand: A product made from 10 percent recycled glass consumes 2 to 3 percent less energy than manufacturing an entirely new product.
- Cut carbon dioxide emissions: For every six tons of recycled glass used, pollution is reduced by one ton of CO2.
- No processing byproducts: Some recycled materials create an additional waste product, but glass does not, making it one of the most environmentally friendly materials to recycle.
Glass Recycling Policies
If you’re excited to start recycling glass, it’s important to become familiar with your local recycling rules first. Contact your city’s waste management company for specifics, but here are some common glass recycling policies to be aware of:
- If your curbside recycling hauler has instituted single-stream recycling, you can throw all recyclables into a single bin. However, in other areas, consumers are required to sort recyclables, including separating glass by color.
- Rinse out glass containers before recycling them. There’s no need to remove labels.
- While broken glass is recyclable, it’s best to recycle unbroken bottles and jars to prevent injuring waste haulers or glass sorters.
- Because glass weighs more and can’t be crushed in the back of a truck like aluminum and plastic, some communities don’t accept glass for recycling.
- Don’t throw non-container glass in the recycling bin. Mirrors, windows, drinking glasses, cookware, and light bulbs are often chemically treated, changing their melting point and making them inappropriate to mix with container glass at a recycling facility.
Popular Products Made from Recycled Glass
When you recycle glass containers, here’s what they can become in their next life:
- New jars and bottles: It’s actually easier for industrial furnaces to make new jars and bottles from recycled glass than raw materials.
- Recycled glass countertops, tiles, and flooring: Crushed glass particles, pigments, ash, and cement bond with resins to form slabs or tiles for use in countertops and flooring. Every manufacturer has a method for producing recycled glass slabs and tiles, but they can often contain close to 100 percent post-consumer recycled materials.
- Fiberglass insulation: Recycled glass is melted and repurposed into fiberglass products, including insulation you can lay on your attic floor to make your home more efficient.
How to Repurpose Glass at Home
While throwing glass bottles and jars in the recycle bin facilitates industry-made recycled glass products, you can also repurpose glass at home. Save money and benefit the environment with these glass projects:
- Recycled glass wall art: Glue glass beads on an old picture frame with clear silicone adhesive. Or create your own “stained glass” with flat pieces of glass set in a frame.
- Recycled glass bottle crafts: Use a longneck bottle as a bracelet holder. Or hang a colored bottle upside-down from a tree branch and insert a hummingbird feeder tube to create an inexpensive hummingbird feeder.
- Recycled glass jar projects: Paint old canning jars and use them as flower vases or candle holders. Or place a little dirt in the bottom of a wide-mouth jar and start a terrarium.
Have any glass projects you’re working on in 2017? Share pictures of your recycled glass bottle crafts or wall art on our corporate Glass Doctor Facebook page!