Glass is used to package everything from spaghetti sauce to cosmetics, and unlike plastic or aluminum, it can be recycled over and over without losing quality or durability. Glass containers accounted for 12.2 million tons of municipal solid waste in 2008. Thankfully, 23% was recovered for recycling, but that number could be much higher. According to the Glass Packaging Institute, recycled glass cullet accounts for 70% of the raw materials needed to create the millions of glass containers used every year. The key to increasing recycling rates and ensuring more recycled content is used in glass bottles and jars is sorting. If you love your single-stream recycling program, and don’t see why you should be bothered to sort your glass containers by color, here are four reasons that might change your mind:
- Color-separated glass has the highest value of all curbside glass, and can be sold to glass container manufacturers for immediate recycling.
- Although all glass is made of silica and soda, the type and quantity vary slightly with different colors of glass. Failing to sort glass by color and type frequently causes manufacturing problems due to different melting points and chemical incompatibility.
- Sorting can help reduce common contaminants, such as ceramics, clay, crystal, heat-resistant ovenware, stones and dirt, light bulbs, metal caps, lids and mirrors, which can reduce the value of recycled glass, and even prevent it from being used to make new containers.
- Sorting your glass by color at the curb or drop-off locations helps reduce the cost and energy needed for recycling, and means the containers you recycle will be reborn as new jars and bottles much faster.