Glass is possibly the most recyclable material available to us- it doesn’t break down upon recycling as paper and plastics may. Glass also makes up a large part of household waste- bottles, broken glassware, and light bulbs being the most common items.
Broken glass can be mixed with raw materials to make new glass, and because glass melts at a lower temperature than its raw materials, recycling is an energy-efficient process. It also produces 20% less air pollution and 50% less water pollution than making glass from scratch. In fact, for every metric ton of recycled glass used in the process of making new glass, 315 kilograms of carbon dioxide emissions are saved.
Many countries in Europe simply ask that you return glass bottles to the company to be washed and refilled so that they don’t even have to go through the recycling process. This has also been proven to be a cost-effective alternative to making new bottles. The United States doesn’t have the nationwide regulations to implement a single system. Instead, glass recycling is governed by state or even local laws. Nine states will even refund consumers five cents per container.
Although clear glass is most common, green, amber, and even blue glass can be found in various applications. However, glass needs to be sorted by color because this color is retained through the recycling process, and the colorings make them chemically incompatible. Also, heat-resistant glasses, like pyrex and borosilicate glass, shouldn’t be recycled because even a single piece can change the viscosity of the molten glass as it is recycled.
Interested in some recycled glassware for your own home? Here's one option.