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What do Americans know about recycling glass packaging?

What do Americans know about recycling glass packaging?

Glass containers are part of most community curbside and drop-off recycling programs.

Providing a mechanism that allows residents to recycle glass bottles and jars is the first step in the glass recycling process.

Recycling in your Community

Glass bottles and jars are an integral part of any community recycling program. They’re 100% recyclable and can be recycled endlessly without any loss in purity or quality. Recycling glass containers saves energy, conserves resources, and diverts this valuable resource from landfill. Plus, consumers expect glass to be included in their local recycling program.

A July 2016 comprehensive survey conducted by the Sustainable Packaging Coalition of nearly 2,000 community recycling programs, placed access to glass beverage container recycling at 81% nationwide. This is 20 percentage points above the 60% Federal Trade Commission threshold for general recyclability claims and labeling, issued through the agency’s Green Guides.

View a list of State Recycling Organizations (SROs). This list was developed by GPI to provide information to individuals, communities, municipalities and businesses seeking information on where and how to recycle glass. As recycling is often a local issue, the SROs have a wealth of in-state information on collection, sorting, processing and end markets for recycled glass. This list is current as of June, 2015.

Glass Recycling Basics

Follow these simple steps when recycling glass bottles and jars. Keep out non-container glass and other contaminants to ensure the glass you recycle is able to be used to make new glass bottles.

  • Recycle Glass Containers Only
  • Keep It Clean:
    • Common Contaminants
      • Ceramic cups, plates and pottery
      • Clay garden pots
      • Laboratory glass
      • Crystal and opaque drinking glasses
      • Mirrors Windshields and window glasses
      • Heat-resistant ovenware (for example, Pyrex or Visionware)
      • Light bulbs
    • Other Contaminants:
      • Ceramic and wire caps for beer bottles
      • Lead collars from wine and champagne bottles
      • Stones and dirt Metal caps, lids and neck rings
      • Drinking glasses
      • Hazardous glass containers (for example, acid containers)
  • Enjoy Products in New Glass Bottles and Jars

Curbside Recycling and Drop-Off Centers

Most glass bottles and jars recycled in the community are collected through curbside or drop-off recycling programs.

Mandatory Beverage Container Deposits

In 10 states, glass bottles are collected through a mandatory beverage container deposit program. Residents pay a deposit on glass bottles and other containers and then return them to a collection center for redemption. According to the Container Recycling Institute, states with bottle bills have an average glass container recycling rate of just over 63%.

Laws and deposit amounts differ from state to state, but all tend to:

Improve the quality of glass collected for recycling.
Increase the percentage of containers going to bottle-to-bottle recycling.
Exclude some glass containers (like wine and liquor bottles).

Fast Recycling Facts

  • In 2012, according to the U.S. EPA, glass made up 4.6% of the municipal solid waste stream.
  • The container and fiberglass industries collectively purchase 3 million tons of recycled glass annually, which is remelted and repurposed for use in the production of new containers and fiberglass products.
  • According to a 2009 survey, 8 out of 10 households recycle, and of those that do, 82% recycle glass bottles and jars. And, 69% recycle glass containers at the curb, while 23% use drop-off collection.
  • The glass capture rates for drop-off recycling is almost 100%, according to research in the cities of Fort Collins and Loveland, CO and Larimer County, CO.
  • In 10 U.S. states where there are deposit laws, glass beverage bottles are eligible for a cash refund when you recycle them.
  • Ceramics, porcelain, Pyrex, and dishware are the most destructive contaminants for glass recycling. Make sure they don’t get mixed in with your recycled glass bottles.
  • On average, 60% of glass from single-stream collection gets recycled into new glass containers or fiberglass, 19% goes to secondary uses and 21% ends up in landfills, according to a 2012 Container Recycling Institute study. In contrast, mixed glass from dual-stream systems yields an average of 90% being recycled into containers and fiberglass.
  • A glass container can go from a recycling bin to a store shelf in as little as 30 days. An estimated 80% of recovered glass containers are made into new glass bottles.
  • Recycling just one glass bottle saves enough energy to light a 100-watt light bulb for four hours, power a computer for 30 minutes, or a television for 20 minutes.