Is Glass Harmful To The Planet?


Excess packaging and plastic waste have been on everyone’s radar as a problem for the environment. We know that plastics do not break down over time and that single use plastics are destined for landfill and a major problem. However, while we have been focusing on plastic items such as straws and coffee cups, other waste streams are getting forgotten. One of the most common business and domestic waste streams is glass, but it hardly gets a mention when it comes to recycling equipment and the impact on the planet. 

Many people assume that glass waste is not a threat to the environment, but do you know where glass comes from? And where is it going once it is thrown away?

The Environmental Issues With Virgin Glass

In very simple terms, new glass is created through heating sand to melting point and then rapidly cooling it. This causes it to retain some of the liquid properties, including transparency. The actual process is slightly more complex, but the key takeaway is that the main ingredients of glass are completely natural, such as sand, soda ash, and limescale. Being produced from natural materials can make it seem like glass creation is a sustainable option, but heating the materials to melting point take a huge amount of energy. Sand needs to be heated to a huge 1700 degrees Celsius in order to make glass, and the process also requires a lot of water.

On top of this, there is also the issue of air pollution that comes from the manufacturing process. Sulphur oxides get released into the atmosphere during the melting process, and if the sand is heated by burning gas, nitrogen oxides are also released. Many believe that glass is a clean product to produce, but in actual fact it has some drawbacks to be aware of.

The Advantages Of Recycled Glass

Many of these common problems with glass manufacturing can be overcome with recycling machinery. Glass is one of the few materials which can be recycled over and over again without losing any of its quality. Melting down glass to produce new glass is exactly the same as melting sand to produce virgin glass. The recycling process uses fewer natural resources than producing glass from scratch. For every 1000 tonnes of recycled glass, we save 1000 tonnes of waste, 1200 tonnes of raw materials, and 314 tonnes in CO2 emissions. 

Recycling just one glass bottle can save enough electricity to power a 100w lightbulb for almost an hour. Both businesses and domestic homes can do their bit to place glass in recycling equipment. All companies across all industries can focus on glass recycling, it isn’t just reserved for restaurants and pubs with a lot of glass waste. Offices and other commercial environments can make a big impact on the planet by simply focusing on recycling glass as well as other common recyclables.

For more information on recycling machinery for your business, speak with our expert team.