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Information About Recycling Glass Bottles

Garbage and Recycling
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Recycling glass bottles is similar in some ways to the recycling process involving aluminum cans. Glass, like metal, is completely recyclable. What that means is that there is no limit to the number of times glass can be recycled. With some materials, like paper, recycling opportunities are not endless because the end product loses a bit of the original paper quality. A glass bottle can be recycled and become another glass bottle on the shelf in a grocery store, for example, in as little as 30 days.

Popularity of Glass Bottle Recycling

Recycling glass bottles is not as popular in the United States as recycling metal and paper, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Metals, led by aluminum cans, have the highest recycling rate with nearly 60 percent of all metals recycled in the country. That's followed by paper, with a greater than 50 percent recycling rate. About 35 percent of all glass containers are recycled; however, officials are optimistic because the numbers are rising. Also, recycling glass is much more popular in some areas of the country. In California, for example, a public education program and plenty of glass recycling centers have led to a recycling rate of nearly 79 percent.

Benefits of Recycling Glass Bottles

Like recycling of most materials, the initial process to manufacture glass requires a significant amount of energy and results in the release of tons of pollutants into the atmosphere. Recycling glass bottles is a much cleaner process and much safer for the environment. The Glass Packaging Institute says recycling a single glass bottle saves enough energy to operate a 100-watt light bulb for a full four hours. Here are some additional benefits of glass recycling:

  • Reduced strain on landfills. While glass bottles are dumped into landfills like other waste, they don't break down like many materials. It's estimated that it would take 4,000 years for a soda-sized glass bottle to fully decompose in a landfill. That emphasizes the need to reduce the glass waste stream. If all glass products, from pickle jars to glass tables, were manufactured with 50 percent recycled materials that would end the need to dump about 180,000 tons of glass into landfills each month.
  • Fewer pollutants. The glass manufacturing process results in the emissions of nitrogen oxide and carbon dioxide. Recycling greatly reduces the emission of these greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. For every ton of glass manufactured, about 385 pounds of waste is released into the atmosphere, according to the World Economic Forum. Meeting the 2013 goal of having 50 percent recycle glass in all glass products would reduce that figure by 80 percent.



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