Domestic waste glass is easy to recycle. The UK currently recycles around 71% of container glass, like bottles and jars. The glass sector is working towards a 90% collection rate for glass by 2030.
Why is it important to recycle glass?
Glass is 100% recyclable and can be endlessly recycled with no loss of quality. New glass is made from four main ingredients: sand, soda ash, limestone and other additives for colour or special treatments. All these raw materials have to be quarried, using up natural resources and utilising energy for extraction and processing.
Therefore, by simply recycling our glass we can reduce non-renewable fossil fuel usage and reduce the emissions of process CO2 from the carbonate raw materials such as limestone.
Each tonne of recycled glass added to the furnace saves 1.2 tonnes of raw materials. Each time one tonne of glass is recycled, about 580kg CO2 is saved throughout the supply chain, air pollution is reduced by 20% and water pollution cut by 50%!
How is glass recycled?
Once glass is collected and taken to be reprocessed, it is:
- mechanically colour sorted, if required
- crushed and contaminants removed
- mixed with the raw materials to colour and/or enhance properties as necessary
- melted in a furnace
- moulded or blown into new bottles or jars.
How is recycled glass used?
Recycled glass can be used to make a wide range of everyday products and some that are completely unexpected, including:
- new bottles and jars
- glass wool insulation for homes, which also helps with energy efficiency
- water filtration media.
How to recycle glass
Most local authorities collect glass bottles and jars in their household collections. They can also be dropped off at bottle banks.
Most people recycle their glass, however there is still more we can all do, such as remembering to recycle our clear glass jars which are often forgotten.