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Glass Recycling

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Daily we are encouraged to do better with our recycling, whether it's paper, plastic, electronics or glass. But often the rules are unclear, or the information we are provided with is insufficient. In this guide, we will cover why glass recycling is important, and how you can get started along with other useful tips.


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What is glass?

Glass is one of the most common manufactured substances in our society, the production of which is thought to date back so far as 3500 BC. Glass is created from readily available materials such as limestone, sand and ash. These natural materials are heated to an extremely high temperature until they melt, resulting in the creation of liquid glass, which can then be moulded and shaped before hardening as it cools.

Throughout your day, it is unlikely that you are ever more than a few feet away from materials containing glass, be it in the form of household or vehicle windows, jewellery, lighting, fibre cables, medical equipment and a myriad of other examples. Naturally as with all materials, eventually the material may break or wear down, at which point we start thinking about disposing of it.

But why is it important to recycle this material, and why does it matter to me? Read on to find out.

Why is it important to get involved in glass recycling?

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You might wonder why if the materials used to make glass are natural, are we particularly concerned with glass recycling. Firstly, glass is 100% recyclable. This means that glass is the perfect example of a material that encapsulates the goals of The Circular Economy Plan. This plan promotes the use and reuse of materials to prevent the acquisition of new raw materials. If a product cannot be recycled, it should then go towards fuel generation.

By reducing the need for new material acquisition, energy is saved, fewer emissions are emitted, and the volume of glass being redirected to landfill sites is limited to very minimal levels. Let’s look at a few quick statistics to further understand the importance of glass recycling.

  • For every ton of glass that is recycled, a ton of natural resources are saved
  • One ton of carbon dioxide is reduced for every six tons of recycled container glass used in the manufacturing process
  • It is estimated that 40% of Irish households get rid of lightbulbs in their general waste
  • A modern glass bottle can take up to 4000 years to break down, meaning that carelessly discarded glass can be a health hazard for both people and animals for many years to come.

How can I get started with glass recycling?

Now that we know why it is important to get involved with glass recycling, let's look at how to get started.

When you move home, like how you would sort out your energy bills, you will have to choose a waste management company to service your home. When browsing their available packages, they usually offer one or more bin types: general waste, recycling, organic waste, and glass recycling. If you opt for a plan that includes a glass recycling bin, then a bin of your specified volume will be delivered to your home and will be scheduled for regular glass collection.

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However, not all providers are able to offer a glass collection service, particularly in rural areas or towns and villages of low populations. Thankfully this gap in the market has already been spotted, and glass-collection specialists such as glassbag.ie offer a glass collection service to help those who cannot avail of this service with their waste collection company. These services can come in the form of ongoing collection contracts or singular one-off collections.

If this is still not an option for you, or you are simply looking for alternate disposal options, then bottle banks and recycling centres are your next step. Bottle banks are a common sight around most towns and offer a convenient way to recycle your glass. Larger facilities like the aforementioned recycling centres also offer this facility, along with the disposal of other household materials such as paper, plastics, electronics and more.

When you arrive at a bottle bank or recycling centre, you will likely see a range of waste disposal units. For glass, there are three specific bins you need to look for. These are colour coded to separate clear, green, and brown glass. If you have a bottle that is none of these colours, it should go in the green bin by default. If you see a waste collection vehicle seemingly putting all of this glass within its cargo space, don’t worry, your work isn’t unappreciated! These vehicles usually have internally segregated departments, meaning that though it looks like all your glass is going in one place, it is still separated by colours.

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What are the dos and don’ts of glass recycling?

Great, so now you know what options you have to dispose of your glass recycling. However, there is a little more you should know in relation to the condition of your glass recycling and how you should use disposal facilities. Let’s quickly cover a few common FAQs.

  • Lids and labels don’t have to be removed from jars or bottles
  • Lightbulbs should be taken to your local lighting or hardware store, or alternately a recycling or WEEE centre, but shouldn't go in glass recycling.
  • Bottles should be washed and clean to avoid attracting pests
  • Pyrex (ovenware), leaded glass, glazing glass and ceramics can’t go in glass recycling bins
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Though waste disposal facilities are free to use, if you are seeking to dispose of unusually large volumes of glass waste, it may be appropriate to arrange for a one-off collection with a waste disposal company due to the limited space capacity of recycling centres.

If you feel that your local area would benefit from having an extra bottle bank or two, requests can be submitted through your local county council. Additionally, most councils have a section on their website regarding waste and recycling, in which you can find the location of your nearest disposal facilities, and discover which waste collection companies operate in your area.

While we are on the subject of recycling, why not check out what you can do with your paper and plastic recycling to maximise your household efficiency?

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