Glass Recycling: Benefits and the Process

For thousands of years, glass has been used as a versatile material with countless uses. Fortunately, unlike other popular materials, clear, clean glass can be recycled repeatedly without losing any quality, making it a logical choice for products in a circular economy of the twenty-first century.

Glass from glass bottles and jars is the type of glass that is most frequently found in municipal solid waste (MSW) and our recycling bins. This covers alcoholic and nonalcoholic beverages as well as glass containers and bottles for food, personal care products, and other items.

What is Glass Recycling?

Making recycled glass into new glass items is called glass recycling. In this manner, recycled glass materials that need to be broken and melted are put through the recycling process.

Almost all types of glass can be recycled, however Ceramic glass cannot be recycled. Furthermore, ornamental glass also cannot be recycled. Consequently, all glass that has been decorated with specific additives cannot be recycled.

Glass Recycling Process

Step 1: Collecting

After being used or broken, many glass objects wind up in trash cans and recycling bins. These are gathered through a nationwide network that consists of: Waste dealers, waste collectors, and recycling businesses are ragpickers.
After being collected, glass waste is taken to the closest sorting facilities for additional processing.

Step 2: Sorting

The inclusion of various chemicals and tiny variations in production techniques produce many types of glasses. As a result, glass waste is separated by color to improve recycling efficiency.

Step 3 – Cullet Manufacturing

After the discarded glass is separated, it is crushed and ground into tiny bits known as ‘cullets.’ Cullets of various sizes can be created depending on the requirements.

Step 4: Decontamination Procedure

All sorts of waste, including glass waste (or cullets in this case), include various pollutants. If pollutants are permitted to stay in the glass cullet, the quality of recycled glass may be compromised, such as structural problems. It is critical to remove these impurities before recycling glass effectively.

Various pollutants can be treated in the following ways:

  • A magnet is used to separate metallic contaminants.
  • Paper and plastic pollutants are collected manually or automatically.
  • Sieving is used to remove ceramic impurities by forcing finely powdered glass cullet through various filters.

However, if ceramic impurities pass through the various screens with the glass cullet, the quality of the product will suffer.

Step 5: De colorization and Dyeing

Glass cullet does not always match the desired color of the finished product. To generate recycled glass of the appropriate color, the glass cullet must first be de-colored before dyeing in the glass recycling process.

The melted glass cullet is oxidized during the de colorizing process.

For Green Glass, the oxidation process changes the color from deep dark green to yellow-green. The glass cullet is then combined with manganese oxide to make it grey. The grey foundation is typically used as the primary color, to which various other coloring dyes or agents are added to create a variety of colored glass.

For Brown or Amber-Colored Glass, Zinc oxide is added instead to oxidize the brown glass cullet to blue or green cullet, depending on the amount of zinc oxide applied and the richness of the brown or amber-colored glass being recycled.
For Clear Recycled Glass, Erbium oxide and Manganese oxide are added to the glass cullet to help clear all of the colors from the glass cullet.

Step 6: Making recycled glass goods

To create recycled glass products, clear or colorful glass cullet is melted and moulded into the needed glass products such as bottles, jars, containers, and so on.

Benefits of Recycling Glass

There are numerous environmental advantages to recycling your bottles. Some of them are evaluated below.

  1. Conserves energy : The ability to save energy is one of the most evident advantages of recycling anything you find around the house. Recycling glass saves energy in a variety of ways. For example, producers consume far more energy in creating new bottles than in recycling. When you look at manufacturing operations, you will notice that there is a lot of environmental damage done. This is accomplished by the usage of energy. Recycling these previously manufactured glasses allows us to save even more energy. Glass cullet, for example, would burn at a much lower temperature. This means more energy available for other purposes.
  2. Pollution Reduction: Recycling glasses has aided in the reduction of pollution in the environment. For example, recycling glass reduces water pollution by around 50%. You also minimize air pollution by about 20%. As a result, it is clear that recycling glass is the path we should all take.
  3. More Landfill Space: When you recycle bottles, you are freeing up landfill space. Bottles have no place in landfills because they can be recycled in every way. As a result, the more bottles you recycle, the more space you free up for non-recyclable materials.
  4. Safer environment: Glass recycling is a significant triumph for the environment. Glasses are hazardous things, particularly when they break. If you do not recycle them, they will end up in various places. They have the potential to injure a large number of people and animals here.

Source: https://wwf.panda.org/discover/knowledge_hub/teacher_resources/project_ideas/recycling_glass/

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