Did you know that every tonne of recycled glass saves 1.2 tonnes of virgin material, including sand and soda ash, that is used to make glass from scratch? Glass is one of the most eco-friendly man-made materials, and there’s no doubt of its major impact on protecting the environment. Whether recycling it to reduce landfill or using it to replace everyday items, it’s significant to consider this material when going green. Here’s what you need to know about how to properly recycle glass and the benefits it has on the environment.
Not all glass can actually be recycled
First, it’s important to understand that only bottles and jars are 100% recyclable.
According to Craig Mynott from Brisbane glass recycling plant, O-I Asia Pacific, items such as “microwave turntables, ovenware, crystal glass, mirrors and light bulbs can’t be recycled.” That’s because most of these items contain chemicals that disallow the glass to melt at the same temperature as bottles and jars.
Additionally, Mynott encourages recycled glass to be rinsed before thrown in the rubbish, especially if the jars contained food products. “If they’re not rinsed they are still used, but it makes our jobs easier,” he explains.
You should also consider the size of the glass before recycling, especially if you’re sweeping up a smashed jar or bottle. Although recycling plants can sort down to glass eight millimetres in size, the preference is to recycle glass that’s 45 mm in size. This simply makes the process easier and more effective. Smaller bits of glass are often crushed into a finer powder at the recycling plant.
Most glass can be recycled infinitely
Although there are some glass items that must avoid the recycling bin, the bottles and jars that can be recycled, can be so infinitely. That means that they can be melted down and reprocessed an unlimited amount of times, without losing its quality, purity, or durability. This is vastly different to plastic, which can be recycled 7-9 times before losing its purity, or paper, which can be recycled just 4-6 times. That’s because the fibres in both plastic and paper shorten each time they are recycled.
So, if these glass items are recycled correctly, there is absolutely no need for any more raw materials or any alternative materials – it’s the ultimate sustainable solution!
Glass is usually recycled in a commingled program
Have you ever noticed the different types of recycling bins? Notice that the bins that accept glass, such as our household, footpath and foodcourt recycling bins, also accept other recyclables such as paper, cardboard, metal, and plastics? However, no bin is ever dedicated just to glass, as some are to paper and cardboard.
Glass is primarily recycled in a single-stream program. Commingled recycling makes it easier for the general public to recycle and reduce landfill by eliminating the need to segregate our recyclables. It also allows for more affordable waste management solutions.
Recycled glass is sorted by colour
Recycled glass is sorted by colour, as different coloured glass is made up of slightly different components. However, Australian recycling plants take care of this during the recycling process, and don’t require us to sort it ourselves. This also highlights the convenience of commingled recycling.
Failing to recycle glass can do more harm than plastic waste
We often hear about the consequences of plastic waste. It takes around 1000 years for plastic bags to break down in landfill, and 450 years for plastic bottles to do so. However, glass is one of the longest-lasting man-made materials, and can do far more damage to the environment than you may think, if failed to recycle. Glass can take anywhere between 4000 to one million years to break down in landfill.
Glass is a favourable sustainable alternative to everyday items
Glass is often used as an alternative to many plastic everyday items. This is especially relevant for our hospitality clients, as the material offers many more sustainable solutions to doing business. This includes replacing plastic tupperware and food storage containers, which is also preferable as it washes well without odours, as some hard plastics have. It’s also becoming common for grocery stores and suppliers to participate in the zero waste revolution. This involves replacing plastic bags, not only with eco-friendly bags, but also with glass jars.
Glass can also be used as alternatives in the office, such as packing your lunch in glass tupperware, using a glass water bottle, and using a glass coffee maker, which many argue improves the taste.
Want to discuss sustainable waste solutions for your business? At Nationwide Waste Solutions, we’re guaranteed to find a solution to reduce your carbon footprint and landfill contribution, including our commingled recycling services. Speak to one of our experts on 1300 729 922 or contact us here.