Glass and bottles are a large component of waste due to their weight and density consisting of bottles, broken glassware, light bulbs and other items. The glass bottle use is not much declining due to rising consumers, high consumption and introduction of a variety of soft drinks and juices. Glass recycling is at a minimum in many countries due to lack of segregation, awareness and economic reasons. Management of glass bottles is a major challenge as it takes millions of years to degrade glass naturally.
Glass bottles and jars are 100% recyclable and can be recycled endlessly without any loss in purity or quality. Over a ton of natural resources are saved for every ton of glass recycled. Energy costs are reduced 2-3% for every 10% cullet used in the manufacturing process. Glass that is crushed and ready to be remelted is called cullet. One ton of carbon dioxide is reduced for every six tons of recycled container glass used in the manufacturing process.
Every metric ton of waste glass recycled into new items saves 315 kilograms of carbon dioxide from being released into the atmosphere. Recycling a glass jar saves enough energy to light a bulb for four hours. The world’s best glass recycling practice is in Switzerland where 91% of manufactured glass is recovered for recycling.
Glass is to be separated from other recyclable waste and kept in recycling containers. Glass collection points, known as Bottle Banks are very common in the developed countries where most collection points have separate bins for clear, green and amber glass as re-processors require glass separated by colours.
The use of the recycled glass as aggregate in concrete has become popular in modern times. This greatly enhances the aesthetic appeal of the concrete. Recent research findings have shown that concrete made with recycled glass aggregates have shown better long term strength and thermal insulation due to better thermal properties of the glass aggregates.
There are environmental, economic and social advantages of recycling glass. These advantages include conserving valuable natural resources and raw materials used in industry. By making products from recycled materials instead of virgin materials, we conserve land and reduce the need to drill for oil and deep excavations for minerals. Making products from recycled materials creates less air and water pollution than making products from virgin materials.
Saving energy reduces acid rain, global warming and air pollution. Making products from recycled ingredients often uses much less energy than producing the same product from raw materials. Saving landfill space is another major advantage. Making glass from recycled material requires only 40% of the energy necessary to make it from virgin materials.
To support glass recycling, a deposit system as levied earlier needs to be practiced requiring consumers to pay deposit per container which could be refunded to anyone who returned the container for recycling.
Let us support the environment by re-using the glass containers and bottles, minimizing its usage and avoid disposing it after use. Glass bottles can be re-used for storing other material and as flower holders and for decoration purposes.