What Is Glass Recycling and Why Is it Important?

23rd May 2023

Glass is a big business: 3.5m tonnes of glass is melted annually in the UK. Given that experts estimate that it takes one million years for glass to fully decompose, the environmental arguments for glass recycling are indisputable.

When you consider that manufacturing recycled glass demands less energy compared to new glass, the financial reasons start to become apparent, too.

In this article, we delve into some of the environmental and economic reasons why glass recycling is important for your business and the world at large.

What Is Glass Recycling?

Recycling allows glass to be remade into new products repeatedly, to the same quality standards. Like aluminium cans, glass is 100% recyclable.

Used glass is sorted and broken down into smaller fragments. Known as cullet, these small glass pieces are processed through a glass recycling machine, where they’re crushed and cleaned in preparation for mixing with other raw ingredients: sand, limestone, and soda ash. Other additives may be included in the mixture to alter the colour or otherwise enhance the finished product.

The mixture is melted in a furnace and then poured into moulds or blown into bottles or jars. Recycled glass has a huge variety of applications, including glass wool insulation, water filtration media or even jewellery!

How Glass Recycling Helps the Environment

Keeping glass out of landfills is just one of the ways that recycling helps the environment.

Recycling requires less virgin material than manufacturing glass products from scratch. For every tonne of recycled glass, we reduce our use of raw materials by 1.2 tonnes.

Reduced demand for the raw materials to make new glass, lessens our demand for the non-renewable fossil fuels needed to extract these materials. The knock-on effects continue as the diminished use of fossil fuels decreases our CO2 emissions. It’s estimated that every tonne of recycled glass saves around 580 kg of CO2 emissions, cuts air pollution by up to 20% and water pollution by 50%.

A simple change in our habits can deliver far-reaching benefits to the environment.

How to Recycle Glass

The good news for British businesses is that it’s relatively easy to recycle glass as it doesn’t need to be sorted prior to collection. The savings quickly mount up, too, as you’ll save on costly general waste collections.

For glass to be recycled, it needs to be cleaned and separated from other waste streams, which means you’ll need a place to store it. Glass is bulky, so depending on how much waste your business generates, how much storage space you have on-site and how frequently collections take place, it can be challenging to find a practical solution for glass recycling.

That’s where glass recycling machines can make a world of difference, helping you to do your bit for the environment.

Glass Crusher

A glass crusher machine breaks glass into smaller pieces, storing them in a dedicated bin until it’s time for collection. Glass crushers come in a multitude of sizes, from units such as the QCR GC01, which is designed to fit under a bar counter, to machines that can crush 680 bottles and store them in a 140l wheelie bin.

These machines are ideal for businesses such as restaurants, pubs or sports clubs, where space is at a premium. Since they reduce glass volume by 5:1, they’ll allow you to fit more bottles in your bins and reduce the frequency of your collections, effectively cutting your recycling costs by up to 60%. 

Glass Imploders

Glass imploders go a step further than glass crushers. As well as breaking the glass into smaller chunks, a glass imploder applies a mechanical resonance transfer process to remove any sharp edges. The result is safer glass, ready for transportation.

Using a glass imploder can also substantially reduce your recycling costs as waste volume is reduced by 6:1. It’s an effective recycling solution for high-volume users, such as shopping centres and hotels.

Why It’s Important to Recycle Glass

Recycling glass is a critical process in the circular economy, helping to keep glass out of landfills where it can remain for up to a million years. Additionally, reduced demand for virgin materials and fossil fuels means it’s cheaper to produce recycled than brand-new glass.

As of 2020, the UK recycled around 74.2% of its glass, but improvements are needed. A target of a 90% collection rate is in place, highlighting the importance of glass recycling in our efforts towards becoming a net-zero economy.

Shop QCR’s Glass Recycling Solutions Today

Recycling is crucial to preserve our environment for future generations, but at QCR we understand that it must also make financial sense. That’s why we stock a wide range of affordable recycling solutions for glass, for both rent and sale, to ensure recycling is hassle-free and cost-effective. Get in touch today for advice on practical recycling solutions.

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