By Laura Elizabeth May
Green Right Now
The glass can be greener on the other side, if you recycle it.
Glass is 100% recyclable which means nothing will be wasted. When glass is recycled over and over again, there is no loss in quality and no waste or by-products. When glass manufacturers use recyclable materials to make new glass products, they are using less energy, cutting raw materials and CO2 emissions.
The glass manufacturing industry has a goal of using 50% recycled content for containers by 2013, according to Joseph Cattaneo, president of the Glass Packaging Institute in Alexandria, Va.. So, the industry needs your glass recycling; they can’t do it without you.
According to studies released by the EPA, glass recycling has been growing in popularity (and accessibility; not all cities collect it). In 2007, the EPA estimates 28.1 percent of glass was recycled, compared with 25.3 percent in 2006, and about 19 percent in 2003.
Once you recycle your glass, it can be on the shelves again in as little as 30 days. The glass is typically sorted through by color and for non-glass contaminants, then sent to a glass manufacturer. Then its back on to store shelves. Chances are the glass containers that you use at home are made up of some recycled glass according to Cattaneo.
For the do’s (rinse it out) and don’t's (do not include the metal lid) of glass recycling see the GPI’s guide.
The glass industry has received a boost in popularity as an alternative to plastic containing Bisphenol A, or BPA, a plastic additive that’s a hormone disruptor linked to fertility and developmental health issues.
Glass is made up of only natural materials such as sand, soda ash, and limestone. There are no synthetic chemicals to be passed on to the consumer. Glass is the only packaging material certified by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration as “generally regarded as safe”.
The key downside with glass is that it’s heavier to ship than plastic, an argument against glass packaging that’s been leveled by the plastics industry as it endeavors to keep a competitive edge in packaging.
As the popularity of glass manufacturing increases, so does the demand for your recycled glass. So, take the glass to the curb — safely inside your recycling bin.
(Photo credit: Glass Packaging Institute)
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