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The Glass Recycling Process

Get the facts on glass recycling

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glass recycling process

The glass recycling process effectively turns old glass into new.

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The glass recycling process turns used glass products back into "new" glass products. By some estimates, recycling glass uses 40% less energy than creating new glass from silica sand, lime and soda ash. Recycled glass also creates about 20% less air pollution and 50% less water pollution.

Glass recycling is a much more efficient process than plastic recycling, since plastics are usually "downcycled" into a lower-quality form of plastic. Plastic water bottles, for example, can't be recycled into new plastic bottles, but glass containers can be recycled indefinitely into new glass containers or other products that contain glass.

When glass is recycled, it is cleaned and separated by color. All other items, including plastic and metal caps, are also removed. Recycled glass is then crushed into a mixture called cullet, which is then sold back to glass manufacturing facilities.

How to Recycle Glass

Glass recycling requirements vary from town to town -- some places require customers to sort glass by color, while others accept a mix of glass, plastic and metal in one recycling bin. Most glass recyclers, however, accept only glass from food or drink containers.

Check with your local recycling center or waste hauler about their particular glass recycling requirements, but most places request the following:

  • Don't throw away window glass, mirrors, glass cups or tumblers, ceramic, Pyrex or other items that are not food or drink containers.
  • Rinse food and drink out of the container or bottle.
  • Remove the cap, wires, neck rings or other non-glass items. You can probably leave the paper label on, however.
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