Key Things to Know About Recycling Glass

Glass is one of the most easily recyclable items of all consumer materials. Most glass jars and bottles that are manufactured in the U.S. today are comprised of around 27 percent recycled glass. This saves energy and results in less stress on the environment.

The Recycling Process

In the glass recycling process, collected glass is broken up, cleaned, sorted and crushed. It is then mixed with other materials and melted down to be reused within new/recycled glass items.

However, not all glass is recyclable. Some types cannot be made into other items, so recycling it is not feasible. These glass types should be thrown in the dumpster or trash receptacle.

It’s important to be aware of which types of glass can be recycled and which cannot, especially since non-recyclable glass in the recycle bin can contaminate the whole load. The following is a guide on what types of glass can and should be recycled – and which should not:

Clear Glass

Clear glass, sometimes referred to as “flint” glass, comprises over 60 percent of all glass containers made in the U.S. Clear glass is a combination of soda ash, limestone and silica (sand). Clear glass is preferred by many companies, especially food manufacturers due to its transparent nature. However, some foods and products degrade when exposed to light, which leads us to the colored glass types we’ll discuss below. Clear glass can be recycled.

Amber/Brown Glass

Around 31 percent of all glass produced is amber or brown in color. To create it, a small amount of sulfur, nickel and carbon is added to clear glass. Brown or amber glass bottles are often used for bottling beer. This type of glass can be recycled.

Green Glass

A small percentage of glass produced in the U.S. is a variety of shades of green. Green glass is often used for wine bottles to preserve its integrity. To produce green glass, chromium, copper or iron is added. Green glass bottles can and should be recycled.

Glass That Cannot Be Recycled

Not all glass types are recyclable. Non-recyclable glass should be thrown in the dumpster or trash receptacle. Use this list to determine if an item can be included within the glass recycle bin:

  • Any glass mixed with other materials.
  • Decorative glass.
  • Mixed-color glass.
  • Dirty glass or glass caked with food waste.
  • Ceramics or dishware.
  • Pyrex and other types of heat-resistant glass.
  • Window glass
  • Mirrors
  • Crystal
  • Light bulbs
  • Computer or television screens
  • Cathode-ray tubes

While recycling should be conducted whenever possible, not all glass types are recyclable. Consult this article to determine if a glass item can be recycled. When in doubt, throw it in the dumpster, or contact Lakeshore Recycling Systems with any questions or concerns.

Remember also to thoroughly clean and rinse any glass item you will be recycling. The cleaner the better. The goal is to ensure a pristine load at the recycling center. This assists in creating recycled glass items that have as much integrity and strength as brand new glass items.