In a world that is filled with plastic waste, some companies and individuals are looking for better ways they can live to help the environment.
One solution is to go back to glass packaging instead of plastic!
Can you recycle glass?
Glass is 100% recyclable and is melted down to create more things once you are done using it. However, recycling glass can be dangerous, so you need to make sure you are taking care of it properly. Treated glass with many chemicals cannot be recycled with regular glass.
How can you do your part to make sure you are recycling and disposing of your glass in a responsible and eco-friendly way?
Let’s talk about it!
What Kind of Glass is Recyclable?
Most of the glass that you come in contact with, in your daily life, can be recycled. This includes all food and beverage containers and other common glass objects.
Not all glass can be recycled; however. Glass that has been treated with special chemicals or coating cannot be recycled with the rest of your glass.
Some types of glass can be recycled, but still might not be accepted in your standard recyclable pickup because of how it is made and how difficult it can be to sort it.
Now let’s talk about some examples of different types of glass and whether or not they can be recycled.
Can Glass Bottles Be Recycled?
Glass bottles, jars, and other glass food and drink containers can all be recycled. This is because they are generally made with the same type of glass using the same process.
Because of this, when the glass recycler attempts to melt the glass down in the process of creating new glass, they will all melt the same way at the same temperature.
The glass used for food and beverage packaging is the most commonly recycled and is the type that is most often accepted in curbside recycling bins.
Depending on where you live, you might be able to get a bottle deposit back on your glass bottles. This is a charge that you pay for when your beverage is purchased, and you get back when you take your bottles to the designated bottle centers.
States that offer glass bottle returns are:
- New York
Every state in the above list has a $0.05 deposit per bottle, except the state of Michigan that has a $0.10 deposit per bottle. Laws like this encourage the recycling of old bottles, whether they are glass, plastic, or cans.
Hopefully, more states will pick up this trend soon, and will help the environment by being more active about recycling!
Can Glass Cups Be Recycled?
Glassware that is used in your kitchen, which includes drinking glasses, baking dishes, and other types of glass dishes are not commonly able to be recycled.
This is not because it is impossible to recycle them, but because of how they need to be recycled. This type of glass requires more heat and a different process to deal with potential additives that were added in the manufacturing of these products.
Take, for example, your glass baking dish. This glass needs to be able to be rapidly heated and cooled various times over without breaking. That means that it had to be treated to do so.
Anyone who’s washed a glass cup in overly hot water and then not let it cool properly by placing it into cold water knows that this is a good way to break or crack a glass.
You might be wondering why this happens? Well, glasses, such as wine glasses or other glass cups, break more than food and beverage bottles, even though they are often made from the same type of glass.
This is because the composition is a little bit different so that you can use your glasses for their intended purpose. Because each type of kitchen glass, such as cups, dishes, or cookware has been manufactured differently, it is hard for recycling centers to sort each type of glass.
This means that your cups or other kitchen glassware will not be accepted in your recycling bins.
It is also unlikely that you could find a recycling center that will take these types of items separately, even though they can be recycled in general.
Can Glass Vases Be Recycled?
Glass vases follow similar rules as the glass kitchenware. Just because it can technically be recycled, most places won’t accept it.
This is again due to how it was manufactured and how much more difficult it can be to break down when recycling. Glass vases can also sometimes come in colors that are uncommon which can make recycling them harder because they are only able to be recycled with a glass of a similar color.
Similar to the section above, you will not be able to place glass vases in your recycle bins and will be hard-pressed to find a recycling center to take it.
Can Glass Windows or Doors be Recycled?
Glass windows or doors are also not accepted for recycling.
This is because oftentimes, when doors or windows are manufactured, they put plastic layers in between the sheets of glass that are used.
This makes it very hard to deal with glass windows or doors that are no longer needed.
Just because it is not easy does not mean your windows are destined for the landfills. There are other options out there for the glass that is in your unwanted windows.
These options include:
- Being remanufactured into a fiberglass product
- Combined in reflective paint that is used to paint roads
- Used in asphalt
- Combined with concrete to create flooring and countertops
- Decorative applications
- Donated and reused in other homes and projects
It is a good idea to keep these options in mind when you are looking to get rid of your glass doors or windows. Just make sure that you take your glass to the proper place based on its condition.
Can Glass be Recycled More Than Once?
Glass can, indeed, be recycled more than once.
Glass materials are a great alternative to plastic because even though plastic can be recycled, it can only be recycled one to two times.
Glass, on the other hand, can be recycled much more than twice.
Can Glass be Recycled Indefinitely (Forever)?
Glass can be recycled for an unlimited number of times. Not only does this protect our environment by not filling up the landfills, but it also helps save on energy.
It is more energy-efficient and cost-effective to reuse recycled glass than to make new glass. It takes approximately 75% less energy to reuse glass than to create glass from scratch.
Glass is much harder to create from scratch than plastic, and that is why we rely on the glass that is recycled to manufacture new glass items.
Almost all the glass jars and bottles that are made in the U.S. have at least 25% recycled glass in them.
Glass is able to be recycled this way because it maintains its quality and purity throughout the recycling process.
To look at more statistics when it comes to recycling glass, visit the Glass Packaging Institute’s website (see reference links below).
*The Glass Packaging Institute is the North American Trade Association for the glass container industry.
Can You Recycle Glass and Plastic Together?
If you are someone who has recyclable bins, you will want to make sure that your glass is separate from all of your other bins.
Most waste management companies will provide you with a separate container for any glass that you have. This is so that your glass will not break and contaminate the other products you are trying to recycle.
A glass object that breaks near your other recyclables can contaminate the recycling processes for other objects such as paper, cardboard, or plastic.
This is also why it is hard to recycle glass windows and doors because they are manufactured with both glass and plastic. Most recycling centers cannot process both the glass and the plastic simultaneously, making it hard to recycle these objects.
Why Won’t My Recycling Center Take Glass?
Overall, you will want to know the rules that are implemented at your specific recycling center. Some places won’t take a glass at all, and you will have to find a center that will.
Waste Management, a large trash collection company, has decided to stop accepting glass altogether because of how heavy it is, making it cost more to transport than they can get for it, which makes it worthless to recycle, cost-wise.
Glass is heavy and harder to transport, especially safely. It can also be time-consuming and costly to separate for recycling centers. Not only does glass have to be sorted by type, but also by color, and this can use a lot of resources that some centers just don’t have.
This is why some centers opt-out of taking glass altogether.
Is Broken Glass Recyclable?
Broken glass can technically be recycled, but it will not be able to be used for the same purpose as it was before.
Also, you should never put broken glass into your recycle bin. This can be a hazard for the workers who collect your recyclables as well as the workers in charge of sorting them.
There is also an issue when you are dealing with large amounts of broken glass if they are made of different colors. Because glass can be reused, trying to reuse pieces of glass that are different colors can cause undesirable colors in the new glass products.
Because of these reasons, most places will not allow you to take broken glass to any recycling centers. In general, the best thing that you should do with broken glass is to dispose of it safely.
What Should I Do if I Can’t Recycle My Glass?
If you have glass objects that you no longer want, and they are not on the list of things that you can recycle, you do have some options.
Donate or Resell it:
One option is to donate any glassware that you have that is in good condition. You can do this by taking it to a local donation center as long as it is intact and in good condition.
This is true for any kitchen glassware, vases, windows, etc.
Make sure when you attempt to sell or donate your items, especially in dishes, that there are no cracks or chips as this could be dangerous to drink from. If you do not know what to do with your doors or windows, you could check with your local Habitat for Humanity or other similar programs that help with low-income households.
You could also attempt to resell it, either online or through a garage sale.
Throw it Away:
If you have glass that is not in good condition or even broken objects, you should throw them away.
As mentioned above, even the glass that is recyclable shouldn’t be placed in the recycling bin if it is broken.
The best option for glass products that are broken, chipped, or otherwise damaged is to safely throw it away.
When throwing away your glass, make sure you don’t just throw your glass away in your trash bin. This can be a similar hazard to workers as placing a broken glass in your recyclable bin.
It can also be dangerous to throw away fully intact glass without first following the proper safety steps. If you throw other trash on top of your glass, it can then break and cause hazards to trash collectors.
When you are throwing away glass, you should follow the safety tips listed below:
- Wrap up your glass in either cloth, newspaper, or other paper type objects.
- Place your wrapped glass in a cardboard box. You can include any other broken pieces or other unsafe glass pieces you need to.
- Stuff any additional newspaper or other buffering objects into the box to prevent further breakage if the box is thrown around.
- Make sure you close the box and tape it shut. It can even help to label the box notifying whoever comes across it, that there is broken glass inside.
- You can then throw the box away in the trash can.
Make sure you are properly cleaning up any broken glass that you need to. Glass can shatter into pieces so small they can resemble dust. This can be dangerous to the occupants of your house, whether that is a child, pet, or even yourself.
If you can find an alternative to throwing away your glass items, you should do so. Because glass lasts forever, it can stay in landfills and never decompose. So before you throw away your glass, make sure you have looked into all other options.
5 Glass Recycling Companies You Should Know:
If you are wondering what companies you should look into for your glass recycling needs, there are a few options that you can look into.
One of the best resources when it comes to glass recycling is the Glass Recycling Coalition. Their main focus is to bring companies together to make glass recycling work. These companies include glass manufacturers, haulers, processors, and other types of glass and materials based companies.
If you are interested in looking into this more, you can visit the Glass Recycling Coalition’s (see reference links below).
They are not the only option for glass recycling. There are many other companies that deal with glass recycling.
Here is a list of companies that deal with glass products:
- Redwave – operates worldwide. Their headquarters are in Austria, but they also have branches in China, Germany, Singapore, and the United States. They specialize in the recycling and waste industry, including glass.
- Glass Packaging Institute (GPI) – GPI is the Glass Container Association of America and represents the trade association for the North American glass container industry. They also promote glass as the best choice for packaging and work hard to advance environmental policies and industry standards.
- Tidewater Fibre Corporation (TFC) Recycling – provides recycling services for Virginia and North Carolina. This site serves approximately 550,000 households and over 4,000 commercial customers.
- Strategic Materials, Inc. (SMI) – facilities across the United States, Canada, and Mexico. One of the largest glass processors in North America, as well as one of the top ten plastic processors.
- Rubicon Global is a worldwide leader in providing cloud-based waste and recycling solutions for customers in business, government, and non-profit sectors. They serve over 2,600,000 locations around the world. Their mission is to end waste.
If you cannot find one of the above companies near you, it is always possible to search for any local facilities. Most areas have a local place that you can take a glass or other materials that you need to recycle or dispose of.
A good place to start is the company that you already use to take your trash for you. They often will do both recycling, lawn waste, and trash services. You will just have to contact them or check their website online to sign up for the additional services offered.
Getting your recyclables picked up with your trash can save you the time and travel of doing it yourself.
What Can I Do to Play my Part in Helping the Environment?
If you are wondering what you can do to help your environment, step one is to try to get away from plastic.
If at all possible, look for glass containers when you are shopping for groceries and other products. But the most important thing that you can do is recycle!
Whether you are recycling your glass containers or paper, cardboard, and plastic products, make sure you recycle instead of throwing away whenever you can!
Maria is the founder of GoDownsize. While studying architecture in Denmark she became fascinated with designing living spaces for boats, tiny houses, RVs, and other small spaces.
She mainly writes about space optimization, interior design, and downsizing. She’s also in charge of our YouTube channel. Read more about Maria here.