Broadcast From the Bins: Glass the Forever Product
Broadcast from the Bins 16th January
Glass: The forever product
If you’re like many other people across the land, you will have managed to build up quite a collection of glass bottles during the Christmas and New Year celebrations. But what should you do with your empty wine, prosecco, and beer bottles, and what happens to them once they have been collected? Sending glass to landfill is wasteful, and discarding it in public places is just downright unsafe. Glass is quite a valuable, and very versatile material, and the best thing you can do is to recycle it.
How can you recycle glass?
You can take it to a local bottle bank or your local council might provide kerbside collection. At a bottle bank, you will be able to sort the glass into separate colours which makes recycling easier, but you can do this at home too before it is collected if possible.
What happens to it once it’s collected?
The recycling plant
The glass is taken to a materials recycling facility, or MRF. Once it is in the plant, any contamination such as bottle caps are removed with magnets. The glass is then moved into a chamber where air is blown on it to remove lightweight contamination such as paper and plastic. The material then goes through a manual sort to remove any items that the machinery has been unable to detect or sort.
Sorting and removing contamination
The material is put into a dryer, and the hot air removes dust, moisture, and any labels that might have come off bottles and jars. The now clean and dry material is fed into a separator which removes any aluminium before it is sent for further sorting to remove stones, ceramics, heat resistant glass, and crystal glass.
The material is fed through a sorting machine and lights illuminate it so an image can be fed back to a computer so any contamination can be detected. If the computer detects contamination, it sends a signal to air jets in the machine which eject the contaminating material, which could be anything from ring pulls or neck rings from bottles.
Separating the glass into colours
The same method that removes the contamination sorts the glass into different colours; clear, brown, and green.
Crushing the glass and making new products
The glass is crushed then tested to ensure it meets quality standards. The material is then sent to bottle and jar manufacturers to make new products. When a material is recycled, and turned back into its original form, it’s called ‘closed loop’ recycling, as the process can be repeated again and again.
Benefits of recycling glass
Recycling glass is good for the environment in several ways;
It saves the resources that go into making it
Every tonne of recycled glass saves 1,300lbs of sand, 410lbs of soda ash, and 380lbs of limestone. These materials are all non-toxic.
It reduces emissions
Every 6 tonnes of recycled glass results in a one tonne reduction in carbon dioxide emissions.
There are no excess by-products
Glass recycling is a closed-loop system, which means that no excess waste or by-products are created during processing.