The ever-alarming waste generation problem only calls for responsible waste management. While different institutions are doing their part to conserve our resources, it's best if every household would take actions as well to help reduce wastes.
Aside from consuming less and upcycling, recycling is seen as an effective way to manage wastes. But unfortunately, not everyone is particular whether an object can be recycled or not, especially when it comes to broken glasses—the reason people inappropriately dispose them right off the bat.
Are Broken Glasses Recyclable?
If you ever think there isn't anything that can be done with broken glasses, you better think again! Broken glasses, called cullet in the industry, is indeed recyclable.
Glass recycling process involves melting back the glasses first before making new items, so it doesn't matter if the glass is broken. While glass recycling facilities can either make glass from their base raw materials or broken glasses, they prefer using a good percentage of old glasses to cut the energy they need to use to create new glasses.
As revealed by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Americans generated about 11.5 million tons of glass waste in the year 2015, but only more than a quarter of it (26.4%) has undergone recycling. This percentage could relevantly increase, as glasses can be recycled several times over. As a matter of fact, 90% of recycled glass is used to make new glass containers while the remaining is used in kitchen-floor tiles, countertops and as insulations.
Below are some tips you should keep in mind if you want to start disposing your broken glasses for recycling:
Separate broken glasses well
● By type
Separate container glasses from non-container glasses. Those without containers, such as mirrors and windows, are treated with chemicals and have a different melting point.
● By color
While some glass recycling plant requires separation of glasses by color, others do not. If your recycler does not, then their process is called single-stream recycling by which all glass items can be combined into a single bin, and will just be separated later on.
Separating your broken glasses by color matters because they can be recycled again and again yet with the maintenance of original color. Combining two different colors may result in a different, and unwanted color.
Keep your cullet clean
It's ideal to clean your glasses, especially those used for food and beverages because residues may attract insects. Rinse them thoroughly and wipe dry if possible. Though recyclers generally clean them, advance cleaning makes a more seamless disposal for recycling.
Include patience and dedication
Glasses aren’t as flexible as other wastes like cardboard. They also weigh more cumbersome than others (like plastic and aluminum). These make storage, disposal, and recycling more complicated and, possibly, costlier than other wastes.
Nevertheless, if it means conserving the limited resources that we have and trying to provide a sustainable environment for the future generation, then all the efforts for glass recycling will be worth it.