What is Glass Recycling?

Glass is a very important inorganic material which is one of the largest productions of industries. It can be made into a variety of different products used for man’s daily living. It is an amorphous solid which can have different compositions of semiconductors but most importantly are made of molten silica along with limestone and soda ash.

We all use glass in our homes. Glass is used in making crockery, windows, doors, mirrors, disposable bottles and many other household items. Though the use we commit them to may differ, one thing is that we can recycle this glass. Like other recyclable materials, you can also put your glass in the recycling bin. But before you do this, you need to first understand what glass recycling is.

recycled-glass

Glass recycling is the process of making glass materials into new glass products. This way, used glass materials pass through a recycling process that requires breaking and melting the glass.

Recyclers use this old glass to form a new glass material. Experts even say that you can recycle your entire glass material.

Let’s take a closer look at recycling glass. What are the things you need to know?

Let’s take a dive in.

What Type of Glass Can You Recycle?

No doubt, you have heard or read that you can recycle glass. However, you might not have heard or read that not all the glass you find are recyclable. Not many people know this, so it is okay if you are hearing it for the first time.

It is essential you know the types of glass you can recycle. This would make you conscious the next time you want to toss a glass into the recycling bin.

Below, we tell you the glass that you can recycle and those that you cannot recycle.

Glass That You Can Recycle

Almost all the glass you use in the kitchen is recyclable. The one you use for your food items too is recyclable. So, you can always toss your condiment containers into the recycling bin. You can also throw your glass jar into the recycling bin.

Nonetheless, this kitchen glass is not absolute. You should not just assume that using your glass in the kitchen qualifies it for the recycling bin. This means you have to be more inquisitive. But, how do you do this?

You can determine this by checking your kitchen glass. If you find the recycling logo on it, you can then toss it in the recycling bin. If you do not, this means you should not put it into the recycling bin.

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You can also consider the glass’ recycling code in line with your approved recycling program. If they match, then you are free to toss the glass into the recycling bin.

Glass That You Can’t Recycle

You can’t recycle ceramic glass. You can’t also recycle decorative glass. Hence, all the glass that have special additives that were used to decorate it cannot enter the recycling bin

Step By Step Process of Recycling Glass

If you have some glass that you are thinking of recycling, you have to relax a bit. Recycling glass is more complicated than you think. There are some necessary steps that you have to follow to recycle your glasses.

We have explained the step below. All you have to do is follow them, and recycling your glasses would be as easy as you can think. So, let’s go.

Step 1: Disposal

The first step to recycling your glass is to dispose of them in a separate recycling bin. You should not mix your glass with other recyclable materials. Glass is prone to break easily. Due to this, they may break into the recycling bin. When this happens, they contaminate other recyclable material. To avoid this, you should get a different recycling bin for your glass.

You can also drop them off at a glass drop-off spot. This way, you are assured that the glass won’t break and contaminate other materials. If they break in the drop-off bin, they are still useful.

Step 2: Recyclers Collection

Putting your glass in a separate recycling bin or a glass drop-off spot is an indication that you want to recycle. Hence, when recycling companies make their routine journey around town, they can collect the glasses.

After collection, they would take the glass to their recycling centers, where they store them.

Step 3: Inspection

The glass that you want to recycle has to go through the process of inspection. This is important to check that the glasses are not hazardous or contaminated. It is also essential to know which glasses would go for recycling.

Step 4: Sorting

Before recycling centers begin the proper recycling process, they would need to sort the glasses. This is important because it will allow them to separate the major and minor contaminants. These contaminants are not glass materials but have found their way among the glass.

The contaminants that they try to separate include; pyrex, ceramics, aluminum cans, and mirrors. Others include; cardboards, window frames, and light bulbs.

This is also the process where recyclers try to separate the glass according to its color.

Majorly, they set two colors aside; the brown glass and the non-brown glass. The brown glass is the one that is fit and proper for recycling.

Step 5: Breaking

In this step, recycling companies start breaking the glass to allow for easy recycling. In this process, the recycling station uses a machine with about twenty-four hammers. These hammers are almost the same size as a forearm. They operate so that they spin sporadically in an axle and break the glass into tiny particles. Recyclers keep these particles to undergo another optical sorting process.

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During the breaking process, recyclers often face the problem of particles becoming airborne. So, to control this, they occasionally add some water mist to stop the particles that might want to become airborne.

Step 6: Trommel

This is another step where the recycling station tries to separate the glass according to their sizes. For many recycling stations, they sort the glass into 3.4 inches and 3.8 inches sizes. They do this by passing the broken glass through a trommel that looks like some revolving screens.

Inside this revolving screen, a fan pushes out the labels or stickers that might still be on the bottles. The tags or stickers go into a different chamber, where they are delivered for recycling.

Not all items will fit into the revolving screen for sorting. There are others like errant labels, corks, lids, and caps. These materials don’t go to waste. The recycling station also directs them into a different chamber where they separate them. They are also recyclable materials and would be recycled accordingly.

Step 7: Bed Drier Fluidization

This is another critical process in the recycling of glass. In this process, the recycling station puts the glass particles in a drier. The drier is often about four inches in size.

After this, there is a vibratory action that moves the glass particles across the bed drier. Recycling stations then heat air to about 190 degrees Fahrenheit. They do this by making use of natural gas that have been forced along the bed drier.

In this process, many things occur. We love to refer to this process as the purification process. This is because the heated air burns bacteria and sugars. The glue used to hold the label to the bottles is also loosened. There is a vacuum system at the top of the bed drier. This vacuum system sucks away the residue that may have floated to the top of the drier.

Step 8: Rotary Screen (Primary stage)

Just like you might have noticed, there are two stages of the rotary screen step. We will discuss the other later. Let’s first consider what happens here.

In this stage, recycling stations screen the cleaned and dried glass. This is important to separate the glass into different sizes. There are many screens in this stage, and occasionally, recycling stations change them to get other glass.

Changing the screen is crucial to the manufacturing of some things. For instance, all the glass particles used in manufacturing fiberglass should not be beyond twelve mesh in size.

So, separating and changing the screens is essential to get the desired result for manufacturing different materials.

Step 9: Pulverizer

This process is like a repeat of the breaking process. Here, the glass particles that couldn’t fit into the rotary screen in the primary stage is taken to the pulverizer.

The process here is more stringent. Recycling stations use a pulverizer that has about thirty-six hammers. These hammers work around an enclosed area and belligerently reduce the size of the glass particles.

Recycling stations take the products of this process back to the rotary screen in the primary stage. They separate them using the net. The glass particles that are too big to fit into the screen are directed to the pulverizer machine. They repeat this stage until all glass particles can fit into the screen at the primary step.

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Step 10:  Rotary Screen (Secondary Stage)

This is an upgrade of the rotary screen process of the primary stage. Here, the recycling station passes the glass particles through different screens. They do this to separate the particles into four different sizes finally. These size grades are:

12 mesh to 20 mesh

20 mesh to 40 mesh

40 mesh to 70 mesh

70 mesh to smaller mesh

All these different sizes are used explicitly for various things.

Step 11: Classification of Glass Culets

Recycling stations classify the glass particles according to the glass culets. Generally, there are about three sizes. They include;

The pebbles

The sand

The powder

Step 12: Recycling Proper

The recycling station begins to recycle the glass cullet for new glass materials. the materials they can make of these glass culets include;

Glass container

Fiberglass

Flux and additive for metal foundry etc

Benefits of Recycling Glass

Hardly can there be no benefits for recycling material. Mostly, these benefits tilt towards the environment. For glass, this is not different. There are many environmental benefits of putting your bottles into the recycling bin. Below, we evaluate some of them.

1. Saves Energy

One of the obvious benefits of recycling anything you find around is the energy-saving advantage. Recycling glass helps to save energy in many ways. For instance, manufacturers’ use of energy in producing new bottles is way higher than what is used to recycle.

If you consider manufacturing processes, you will discover that there is a lot of damage done to the environment. And this is through the use of energy.

Recycling these already produced glasses means we are saving more energy. Glass culet, for instance, would burn at a considerably lower temperature. This means more energy to divert into other useful things.

2. Reduction in Pollution

Recycling glasses has been a contributory factor in reducing pollution in the environment. For instance, when you recycle glass, you reduce water pollution by about fifty percent. You also reduce air pollution by approximately twenty percent. So, it is evident that recycling glass is the way we should all go.

3. More Space On Landfills

When you recycle bottles, you are freeing up space in the landfills. Since you can recycle everything about bottles, it has no business in the landfills. So, the implication is that the more you recycle bottles, the more space you free for materials that are not recyclable.

4. Safer Environment

Recycling glass is a big win for the environment. Glasses are dangerous objects, especially when they break. If you don’t recycle them, they will only end up in different places. Here, they can cause injury to many persons and animals.

Conclusion

Glass is one of the most familiar things in our homes. This means we should be okay with recycling them without worry. We have provided the ways you can do this above. The ball is now in your court

References:

https://www.randysenvironmentalservices.com/about/blog/glass-101-what-types-glass-can-be-recycled

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

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About Rinkesh

A true environmentalist by heart ❤️. Founded Conserve Energy Future with the sole motto of providing helpful information related to our rapidly depleting environment. Unless you strongly believe in Elon Musk‘s idea of making Mars as another habitable planet, do remember that there really is no 'Planet B' in this whole universe.