Many businesses can make savings and improve their profit margins significantly through recycling waste glass responsibly. Waste disposal costs can be particularly high for this material due to its heavy weight and besides, when you consider the fact that this valuable resource is infinitely recyclable, it clearly makes absolutely no sense to send it to landfill.
Glass is one of the most highly recyclable materials we use and during the recycling process; its quality does not degrade. This material can therefore be recycled repeatedly.
WHAT IS GLASS?
Glass is made from three main virgin materials; sand, (silica), soda ash and limestone. Once melted at high temperatures, these materials turn into a molten form that can be moulded and formed in many ways.
As well as being highly recyclable, this material is also incredibly versatile. Glass is an excellent natural choice for containing everything from cosmetics and medicines to food and beverages. As well as being able to accommodate a variety of unusual shapes, this great material can also be coloured, engraved, decorated and coated to suit a variety of different purposes.
GLASS IN LANDFILL
Scientist’s estimate that it would take somewhere in the region of one million years for glass to break down naturally in a landfill site – that is quite some time!
In the UK approximately 50% of our waste glass is recycled.
When glass is manufactured using recycled materials, the energy used is less than half of the energy that would be required for making glass from sand. Mining and harvesting virgin materials, uses a great deal of energy and that is before the manufacturing process has even begun. Every glass item you recycle will therefore save energy.
Each time a ton of waste glass is recycled, more than a ton of natural resources are saved.
Recycling allows virgin materials to remain in the ground where they belong.
Saving our energy reduces unnecessary air pollution and damage to the environment. Recycling waste glass prevents thousands of tons of CO2 emissions from being released each year in the UK alone.
THE RECYCLING PROCESS
Waste glass is processed in a glass treatment plant and first it must be sorted into different colours and washed thoroughly. Next, the glass is crushed, then melted at high temperatures in the region of 1600 degrees Celsius. Finally, the glass can be poured, moulded, pressed or blown and used to create new products.
Cullet is the name for the crushed glass product that is produced when glass is recycled.
A percentage of this recycled glass product is usually combined with virgin materials during the manufacturing process to reduce costs and minimise energy usage. In the UK the majority of our glass bottles and jars contain around 30% of this recycled material.
USES FOR RECYCLED GLASS
Recycled glass can be moulded back into new bottles and jars and returned to our shelves, but there are many other uses for this versatile material including:
Our modern day lives would be incomplete without this wonderful material that surrounds us in many forms in our everyday lives. There really is no excuse for failing to recycle glass when the practical, environmental, social and economic advantages for doing so are so clear!