Glass can be recycled over and over without any loss in purity or quality. For every ton of glass that is recycled, over one ton of natural resources are saved — including sand, soda ash, limestone, and feldspar. Using recycled glass cuts energy costs and reduces greenhouse gas emissions. Plus, one ton of carbon dioxide is reduced with every six tons of recycled glass used.
Glass is collected at curbside, beverage container redemption centers, beverage distributor co-ops, drop-off locations, and at some special events.
At a material recovery facility (MRF), rotating metal discs on a conveyor belt break the glass, which then falls through holes while other material remains on the belt. The separated glass is placed on a vibrating screen and hit with gusts of air to remove dirt, paper, and debris from the broken glass material. Once the recycled glass is crushed, it is called “cullet.”
Cleaned cullet is sometimes sorted by color (green, amber, and clear) before being sent to a special cullet processor for further contamination removal and to be sized down to container specifications.
For it to become a new glass container, glass must be free of contaminants.
This mixed glass is then sorted with an “optical sorter” that parses by color. Next, it is sized according to manufacturing standards — usually ⅜ inch to ¾ inch.
The recycled glass is placed into the glass container furnace and re-melted with raw materials to produce a new container.