Refuse and Recycling Blog

Glass: What is and isn't Recyclable?

Posted on Fri, Jun 22, 2012 @ 09:00 AM

GlassRecycling 

The majority of the glass jars and bottles made in the US contain at least 25 percent of recycled glass. This saves significant amounts of energy since it takes 75 percent less energy to reuse glass than to create it from raw materials. Glass can take up to one million years to decompose. Since it is endlessly recyclable, it makes sense to recycle it, instead of using similar products made from plastic. 

More than 60 percent of glass products manufactured in the US are made from clear (flint) glass. This is usually favored by manufacturers, since their products can be clearly seen through the glass, but light exposure can cause products in clear glass containers to degrade. This is made from sand or silica, soda ash and limestone. Generally, used clear glass products are recycled into further clear glass products and colored glass recycled into further colored glass products. This is why recycling centers require that clear glass be separated from colored glass.

Around 31 percent of glass containers produced in the US are brown or amber in color. Carbon, nickel and sulfur are added to molten clear glass to achieve the color. Brown and amber glass can only be recycled into further brown or amber products. Brown glass protects its contents from degradation due to sunlight, preserving flavor and freshness. Brown glass is the most common color of beer bottles.

Commonly used for wine bottles, green glass accounts for seven percent of the glass containers made in the US. Iron and copper or chromium are added to molten clear glass to produce green glass. As with brown glass, green glass can only be recycled into further green glass products. Green glass protects its contents from temperature changes and sunlight.

Not all glass is recyclable. The following glass products should never be placed in with other glass that will be recycled:

  • Ceramic/glassware such as tableware
  • Glass that is contaminated with dirt, stones or food
  • Heat resistant glass such as ovenware or Pyrex dishes
  • Broken glass in mixed colors
  • Window panes
  • Mirror glass
  • Crystal
  • Light bulbs and cathode ray tubes should be recycled separately

Key Takeaways

  • It takes 75 percent less energy to reuse glass than to create it from raw materials.
  • Light exposure can cause products in clear glass containers to degrade.
  • Green glass accounts for seven percent of the glass containers made in the US.
  • Green glass protects its contents from temperature changes and sunlight.

Need Help?

If you or your business still has questions or needs an easier way to recycle all of your glass materials, contact us to get all the information you need. 

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