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Glass recycling: Your guide on how to recycle glass items

glass recycling

Recycling glass is one of the easiest ways to do your bit to help the environment. There are many advantages to recycling your glass containers and bottles, since it can be infinitely recycled without losing any of its properties or its original quality. In this article, we explain how to properly recycle your glass items.


What is glass recycling?

Glass is a very useful material for our packaging because it is very easy to recycle. Glass can be 100% recycled indefinitely without losing its original quality and property.

On the contrary, plastic can only be recycled 2 to 3 times because beyond that it loses quality and resistance. Thus, glass containers are an ideal alternative to plastic containers in the food industry.

Can all glass be recycled?

Not all glass can be recycled in your recycling bin at home and you will need to look for alternatives such as a glass recycling company or take it to your local recycling centre.

This is because not all glass melts at the same temperature meaning that if these items get into the glass recycling process it could cause problems.

What glass can be recycled?
Can be placed in glass recycling bin Can not be placed in glass recycling bin
  • Bottles of any colour: wine, beer, spirits;
  • Jars: food suaces, baby food, jam, honey;
  • Non-food bottles: perfume, aftershave, face creams.
  • Light bulbs;
  • Mirrors;
  • Drinking glasses;
  • Vases;
  • Pyrex or microwave plates;
  • Mirrors;
  • Window glass.

To find out where your nearest centre is to recycle glass, you should search online for ‘glass recycling near me’ or ‘glass recycling drop-off near me’, or check out your local council’s website for more information.

How to dispose of broken glass?You may be thinking that because glass is recyclable, broken glass can be disposed of in the same way. Think again! Make sure you wrap broken glass in newspaper before putting it in the recycling bin. Broken light bulbs, pyrex and other items should be taken to your waste recycling centre.

Glass recycling in the UK: What should you do?

For home recycling collections, you should contact your local council about getting a recycling bin if you don’t already have one. You can find out on the Government website where and how to order a recycling bin.

Glass containers that can be put in your glass recycling bin include bottles of any colour: wine, beer and spirits, and food jars such as sauces, jam and baby food.

Clean your glass jars!Dirty jars can make the recycling process more difficult - so make sure you rinse them out before placing them in the recycling bin.

Check with your council about what day the recycling will be and ensure you put your bin out on time.

You can also take glass bottles to glass bottle banks, located in many places around towns and cities such as sports centres or supermarkets. The rules are similar to disposing of glass in your home recycling bin:

  • Make sure the bottles and jars are clean;
  • Remove cork tops before placing glass items in the bottle bank;
  • Place the glass item in the correct coloured bin - clear glass in the bottle bank for clear glass, brown glass in the bottle bank for brown glass, green and blue glass in the green bottle bank.

The glass recycling signLook out on your glass items for the glass recycling sign. If it has the logo on it, you can safely recycle your glass jars, bottles and other items in the recycling bin at home or at a bottle bank.

glass recycling sign

How is glass recycled?

There are two main ways that you can recycle glass in the UK. Most councils provide a glass recycling bin in which to put your glass waste, known as cullet, and it will be picked up as part of the kerbside recycling service. Alternatively, you can take your glass bottles and containers to bottle banks, normally found at council recycling centres, outside supermarkets, sport centres and other community buildings.

glass recycling process

Once it is collected, there are four main steps in the recycling process:

  1. The glass is crushed and any contaminants are removed;
  2. Next, it is mixed with the raw materials to colour and enhance its properties as necessary;
  3. The cullet is then melted in a furnace;
  4. Finally, it is moulded or blown into new bottles or jars ready to be reused in shops and restaurants.

What is glass made of?Believe it or not, glass is made up of readily available materials including limestone, soda ash and sand. These materials are mixed together and heated at high temperatures - up to 1,700ºC - at which point it undergoes a complete transformation. The liquid is then put into moulds and cooled, ready to become glass containers of all shapes and sizes.

Glass recycling facts

Having looked at how you can dispose of your glass bottles, jars and other glass items, in this section we will look at some facts about glass recycling in the UK.

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Data published by glassrecycle.co.uk shows that the average British household gets through around 500 glass bottles and jars per year. As as a result, there are some interesting consequences:

  • In total, around 1,500,000 tonnes of glass bottles are recycled from UK households every year;
  • Recycling just two glass bottles or jars uses the same amount of energy it would take to boil enough water for five cups of tea;
  • Around 315 kg of carbon dioxide (CO2) is saved from being emitted into the atmosphere for every tonne of glass that is melted;
  • Recycling glass has a big impact on the need for raw materials. For every tonne of glass recycled, around 1.3 tonnes of raw materials are preserved, helping the environment.

The benefits of recycling glass

There are many benefits to recycling glass and if we all did our bit to recycle it properly, we could make the right steps in tackling climate change.

Can you make money from glass recycling?Glass recycling for money is an option, although you are unlikely to make a living off it. Some examples of how to make some money through recycling glass include returning empty perfume bottles to The Perfume Shop, who will reward you with a 10% discount voucher.

Some of the pros of recycling glass include:

benefits of glass recyling
  • Energy savings: Recycled glass melts at a lower temperature than making glass using raw materials. The result is a reduction in energy use and emissions into the atmosphere;
  • Conserves natural resources: By recycling glass, there is no need to turn to the world’s limited natural resources or use fossil fuels in the production process;
  • Good for the environment: A glass bottle sent to landfill can take hundreds of thousands of years to break down. Because of the ease of the recycling process, a bottle that leaves your table can appear as an entirely new product in a store or restaurant in as little as 30 days later;
  • Sustainable: Glass is 100% recyclable and does not lose its quality no matter how many times it is recycled.
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