Key steps to recycling glass
- Wash the item to ensure it is clean. If you plan to reuse the item yourself, read our article on sterilising glass.
- Remove as much of labels or stickers as you can. Read more about this here.
- Place the item in your recycling bin or take it to a collection point. Some glass items, like lightbulbs, may require a different recycling technique.
- You can still recycle broken glass but need to handle it carefully. Find out how to dispose of broken glass here.
From fizzy pop bottles to bathroom windows, glass is basically everywhere in our lives – but is glass recyclable? Of course it is! Here, we’ll give you a quick rundown of what happens to items you leave out for recycling, how you can “upcycle” glass, and how to get it shiny and clean before placing it in the recycling bin.
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Glass recycling: beyond the bin
If you’ve ever wondered how is glass recycled then allow us to explain! Here’s a quick run-down of what happens after your regular rubbish collection.
- Glass is stored by colour (clear, brown, and green) until it arrives at the glass recycling plant.
- It’s loaded onto a conveyor belt that goes all the way around the facility, taking things to the next stage of the process.
- The first stage is manual sorting. An operative will check everything that comes in through the glass recycling conveyor belt and remove any large bits of plastic, ceramic, brick, or other material they find.
- The glass is moved to the next room where it is crushed and passed through a vibrating screen that removes pieces of cork and paper.
- Next, the glass is passed through a rotating drum containing a huge magnet. This will remove any magnetic metals.
- The glass is passed over another screen to a laser technology area, where stone, brick and ceramic are removed from the mix. This is important because those materials wouldn’t melt in a glass manufacturer’s furnace.
- The glass passes under a strong vacuum duct that removes lighter materials such as paper labels.
- The next stage in recycling glass involves a metal detector. Any metals like aluminium and lead, which would not be picked up by a magnet, are removed using air jets.
- A second laser removes smaller stones and pieces of ceramic, and a second operator checks the glass once more. It’s now ready to go on to be melted and reused.
How is glass recycled when it’s not thrown away?
Of course, you can recycle glass bottles and jars in other ways as well. In fact, you probably already have! Maybe you’ve kept an old sauce jar, cleaned it out, and used it to store something homemade. Maybe, every so often, you take a tip from your favourite restaurant and recycle glass bottles by putting flowers in them for a romantic dinner at home.
If you fancy getting creative with glass recycling, here are a few ideas you might want to try:
- Try recycling glass jars as cups with trendy screw top lids. Make sure you clean them out thoroughly first and make a hole in the centre of the lid just big enough for a straw. Make sure you sand down any rough edges to avoid accidents
- Lost your rolling pin? Remove the label, give it a good scrub, and use an old wine bottle
- Use old glass jars for storage around the kitchen or home office. This could be anything from pencils and pens to cooking utensils. And, if you’re wondering how to recycle glass jars into something even more special then why not fill them with inspirational notes and quotes from friends and celebrities alike? Just pick one out whenever you’re in need of a pick me up!
And there you have it – all your questions answered, from “how is glass recycled?” to recycling glass in the home. Just remember to be careful if glass breaks – here are a few tips on how to handle broken glass.