Glass is one of the most eco-friendly substances because it can be recycled an infinite number of times. Other materials weaken after being recycled numerous times, but glass’s strength and quality remain the same regardless of how many times the material has been recycled.
Even though glass is recyclable, much of the glass waste in the U.S. ends up in landfills. In fact, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimated that only 28% of the glass waste produced by U.S. consumers is recycled. To increase this percentage, everyone should do their part by following these tips for recycling glass:
Contact the City
Before tossing glass waste into a recycling bin, contact city officials to find out if the curbside recycling program accepts glass. Some cities ask their residents to drop off all glass waste at the local recycling center instead of leaving it at the curb. Why? Glass is heavy and fragile, which makes it incredibly difficult to transfer. For this reason, many cities ask their residents to bring glass waste directly to the recycling center.
Separate Different Types of Glass
The glass that is used to create a soda bottle is not the same as the glass that is used to create a window. Glass that is used for windows and mirrors is typically treated with chemicals, which means it may need to be processed separately from other types of glass. Some recycling centers will not even accept the type of glass that is used for windows or mirrors. Play it safe by calling ahead of time to find out what the rules are at your city’s recycling center.
Rinse the Glass Off
Rinse glass bottles and jars out before recycling them to remove residue from food and beverages. Leaving residue behind can lead to a pest problem at the recycling center. Plus, if a recyclable that has a lot of residue is processed, it’s possible that it could contaminate the entire batch of recycled items. This means all of the items that were processed with the contaminated item may end up in a landfill.
Lids and caps are typically not made out of glass, which means they should not be recycled with glass waste. Before recycling glass jars or bottles, make sure to remove the lids or caps and recycle them separately. Most lids and caps are made out of metal, so they usually can be recycled with other metal waste.
Keep the Glass Intact
Many people think that it doesn’t matter if a glass bottle is shattered or in one piece since it’s all being recycled anyways. But, this is not the case. It’s true that glass waste can be recycled regardless of whether it is broken or completely intact. But, broken pieces of glass will not be returned to their previous state, whereas fully intact bottles and jars will. For example, an unbroken glass bottle can be recycled to create another glass bottle, but recycled broken glass can only be used as an additive to other materials.
The next time you sort through household waste, use this list as a guide to help you remember how to properly recycle glass items.