Recycling glass is easy, and glass containers returned for recycling help to make new glass bottles and jars. Recycling glass has big environmental pay offs. It saves raw materials, lessens demand for energy, and cuts CO2 emissions.
Glass can be recycled endlessly with no loss in quality or purity. In 2015, 41.9% of glass beer and soft drink bottles, 27.5% of wine and liquor bottles, 15.1% of food jars, and approximately 33.2% of all glass containers were recycled. In some states, like California, glass bottle recycling reaches over 80%.*
* Sources: U.S. EPA's "Advancing Sustainable Materials Management: Facts and Figures 2015" Report, California Department of Conservation.
Unmatched Environmental Benefits
- Recycling glass containers provides for unmatched production efficiencies and significant environmental benefits:
- Saves raw materials — Over a ton of natural resources are conserved for every ton of glass recycled, including 1,300 pounds of sand, 410 pounds of soda ash, 380 pounds of limestone, and 160 pounds of feldspar.
- The container and fiberglass industries collectively purchase 3.2 million tons of recycled glass annually, which is remelted and repurposed for use in the production of new containers and fiberglass products.
- Lessens the demand for energy — Energy costs drop about 2-3% for every 10% cullet used in the manufacturing process.
- Cuts CO2 emissions — For every six tons of recycled container glass used, a ton of carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, is reduced. A relative 10% increase in cullet reduces particulates by 8%, nitrogen oxide by 4%, and sulfur oxides by 10%.
- Extends furnace life — Including cullet in the manufacturing mix makes it less corrosive and lowers the melting temperature (from 2800 degrees F. to 2600 degrees F.), prolonging furnace life.
- No processing by-products — Glass recycling is a closed-loop system, creating no additional waste or by-products.
Safe and Light-Weight
Today’s glass containers are approximately 40% lighter than they were 30 years ago..efforts to reduce the weight of glass containers continue throughout the industry.
Glass packaging can handle vacuum or high-pressure sealing, safeguarding against moisture and oxygen invasions. This protects food and beverages from spoilage and bacteria.
Glass containers are impermeable, air-tight, and transparent. You can see the freshness of food and beverages.
Nontoxic and FDA Approved
Made from nontoxic raw materials—silica, sand, soda ash, limestone and up to 70% recycled glass—glass is the only packaging material certified by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration as “generally regarded as safe.”
Glass is nonporous and impermeable, so there are no interactions between glass packaging and products to affect the flavor of food and beverages. No nasty after taste—ever.
Glass has an almost zero rate of chemical interaction, ensuring that the products inside a glass bottle keep their strength, aroma, and flavor.
Glass can be specified to absorb damaging ultraviolet light, ensuring product purity and taste. In fact, glass has an inherently longer shelf life than any packaging material.
Glass does not deteriorate, corrode, stain or fade, so products inside a glass container remain as fresh as when they were bottled.
In June 2015, the Department of Energy (DoE) issued a long awaited Report to Congress, and accompanying Study, which highlights both recycling collection and related sorting processes, and how using recycled glass in the manufacturing process reduces energy use at glass container manufacturing facilities. Click here to read the GPI 1-Pager, highlighting the relevant sections pertaining to glass recycling.
View a list of State Recycling Organizations (SROs). This list was developed by GPI to provide information to individuals, communities, municipalities and businesses seeking information on where and how to recycle glass. As recycling is often a local issue, the SROs have a wealth of in-state information on collection, sorting, processing and end markets for recycled glass. This list is current as of June, 2015.