News flash: Don’t put your broken drinking glasses in your general recycling bin. Don’t put mirrors, glass ovenware or windows in there either.
If you live in a community that’s like most, only “container glass” can go in your bin. Container glass includes items like beer and wine bottles or mustard and pickle jars. This type of glass is food grade, and it cannot be mixed or recycled with other types of glass.
The availability of glass recycling in your community depends greatly on what businesses are nearby to accept the materials. Otherwise, the cost (transportation, fuel, processing, etc.) outweighs the benefit of recycling the glass altogether.
“It’s a community by community thing,” says Joe Cattaneo, president of the Glass Packaging Institute, “and if glass isn’t collected, it’s not collected because they don’t have a glass or fiberglass company in the area that it can be delivered to cost-effectively.”
Separating out the right types of glass (which typically happens through optical sorting) from other materials that may be in the recycling bin can also be a challenge. “Glass gets mixed up with fiber, with plastic,” Cattaneo says, making separation tricky.
Here’s your cheat sheet to making sure you get your glass recycling just right:
DO review your local, community guidelines to make sure what you’re tossing in fits the bill.
DON’T add types of glass that are not specifically listed in your guidelines. Remember the pizza box story? Contamination is a big issue when it comes to making recycling viable.
DO check to see if there are local options for recycling other types of glass in your area.
DON’T throw out your glass until you’re sure there aren’t any cool reuse projects where it can be repurposed.