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Glass

Glass recycling process

Why recycle?

Recycling is one way we can all help to ensure an environmentally sustainable future for ourselves and generations to come.

Fact:

Recycling just one glass bottle saves enough energy to light a 15-watt bulb for 24 hours!

Types of glass

Types of glass

Different types of glass go through different recycling processes. For example: Cookware (like pyrex dishes) melts at a much higher temperature than container glass and must be processed separately.

Overall recycled glass is melted at a lower temperature than brand new glass, which saves 30% of the energy used.

Types of glass include:

  • Container glass ie: jam jars, wine bottles, beer bottles
  • Float glass ie: windows, flat glass
  • Cookware ie: pyrex dishes, tableware (plates, wine glasses)
  • Automotive glass ie: windscreens

Collection

Collection

Glass for recycling can be collected from people’s homes, from recycling sites, and from businesses.

Sorting

Sorting

Glass for recycling is mostly collected from bottle banks or businesses. Bottle banks are usually painted in the colour of the glass to be placed in them. Purpose built trucks collect the bottles and take them to be stored in a depot. When lots of glass has been collected and delivered to the depot, it is all transported to a glass recycling facility.

Crushing

Crushing Once at the recycling facility, the glass is crushed. Crushed glass is called cullet. Cullet is used to make new glass and can also be crushed further into a powder and used as a material for building roads.

Cleaning

Cleaning

Cullet goes through many processes to remove items that are not glass.

To remove ferrous (magnetic) metal such as steel and iron, the cullet is passed through a strong magnet. To remove non-ferrous (not magnetic) metal, the cullet passes by powerful air jets which separate the metal pieces from the cullet. To remove lightweight items (like paper), the cullet goes through a vacuum. Any remaining items that are not glass (like ceramics), are removed by passing the cullet under a laser which ejects them.

New glass

New glass

Once cleaned the cullet is now ready to be made into new glass at a glass making facility. To make new glass, the cullet goes into a furnace where it is melted at a temperature of 1500°C.

The high temperature turns the cullet into a liquid called molten glass. The molten glass is shaped in moulds to become new bottles or jars.

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