Glass is a hard, inert material that can be recycled over and over again. It can be used in many different ways so presents good opportunities for you to sell recycled materials. It also weighs a lot, making it expensive to dispose of through your usual disposal methods.
You may want to recycle more glass, but might be concerned about potential difficulties. However, you may be able to resolve these relatively easily:
- Lack of space for glass recycling bins - you may be able to get smaller or differently-shaped bins from your collector. In time you may also be able to use smaller bins for your regular waste. You could consider recycling machines that can crush or reduce the volume of glass waste behind the counter.
- Glass collection costs - glass recycling is cheaper than general waste collections, and this gap is set to widen with future landfill tax increases.
- Lack of time - as long as your collection bins are situated close to your regular bins, recycling glass shouldn't take any longer than your current waste disposal method.
- Staff training - a short refresher course, along with signs at each recycling point explaining what should and shouldn't go into each bin, should ensure that your staff know how to use the bins correctly.
- Noise pollution - if your business has received complaints about the noise caused by tipping glass bottles into and out of bins, you could consider changing the procedure or timing of glass collections.
- Glass colour separation - if possible, it is best to collect glass colours separately, as the glass will be of better quality and more easily recycled. However, some glass collections now collect mixed colours of glass. Check options and costs with you waste contractor.
You may be able to provide recycled glass for a number of other end markets. It can be used as a coarse aggregate substitute in road construction, concrete product manufacture or as trench backfill. When crushed to a finer size, it can be used in:
- sports turf applications, such as golf course bunkers or as top dressing for fairways
- grit blasting - for example to clean metal of contaminants such as rust and grease
- glass bead manufacture
- brick manufacture as a fluxing agent
Mixed colour container glass or flat glass can also be used in fibreglass insulation manufacture and offers numerous benefits over virgin materials.
If you are intending to start recycling glass, or to expand the amount you recycle and reprocess, you should look into the market conditions for recycled glass materials.
Standards and protocols for recycled glass
Standards and protocols contain criteria that you should aim to meet. They demonstrate the quality of your processes and products to potential customers. Complying with a quality protocol also means that you do not have to comply with the usual controls on waste, such as using waste transfer notes when you transport the materials.
The following standards and protocols apply to glass recycling and reprocessing:
- The quality protocol for flat glass contains requirements that prevent a material becoming waste.
- Publicly Available Specification (PAS) 101 provides guidance for businesses collecting and delivering recovered container glass or 'cullet'.
- PAS 102 provides guidance for businesses producing processed glass as a granular media for certain end markets.