Glass is made from readily available domestic materials, such as sand, soda ash, limestone and “cullet,” the industry term for furnace-ready scrap glass. Glass can be recycled again and again with no loss in quality or purity. In 2010, 37 percent of all glass bottles in the U.S. were recycled according to the Container Recycling Institute.
For every ton of glass recycled, more than a ton of raw materials is saved, including 1,300 lbs. of sand, 410 lbs. of soda ash, 380 lbs. of limestone and 160 lbs. of feldspar. Recycled glass is substituted for up to 70% of raw materials used in making new glass. An estimated 80% of recovered glass containers are made into new glass bottles. According to the U.S. EPA and CRI, 41% of beer and carbonated soft drinks bottles, 25% of wine and liquor bottles, and 18% of other glass bottles and jars were recovered in 2010, saving the energy equivalent of 7.5 trillion BTUs and avoiding 1 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions (MTCO2E). Manufacturers benefit from recycling in several ways: it reduces emissions and consumption of raw materials, extends the life of plant equipment (such as furnaces) and saves energy. Glass recycling creates no additional waste or byproducts.
Glass manufacturers are requiring more and more high-quality recycled container glass to meet market demands for new glass containers. Color-sorted, contaminant-free recycled glass helps ensure that these materials are recycled into new glass containers. While curbside collection of glass recyclables can generate high participation and large amounts of recyclables, drop-off and commercial collection programs are also effective at yielding high-quality container glass.