Suggestions Wanted: What to do with Recycled Glass?

Did you know that glass is the only recyclable material that can be infinitely recycled to make new glass products?

I am asking for suggestions from all of you, and this blog is a request for help. I was contacted by a past customer and current volunteer for a local non-profit asking for suggestions. I’m now asking you, the reader, for help in answering her question.

Nashville, Tenn., has curbside recycling for almost anything except glass. Individuals must take their glass recyclables to a public recycling center. A local non-profit, Justice Industries will come to your home and get the glass recyclables twice a month for an annual fee of $121. Justice’s glass recycling business is called Just.Glass. Most of the glass is beer, wine, liquor and condiment/sauce bottle and/or jars. Just.Glass takes the glass to the public recycling centers.

Now the plea for suggestions: What can Just.Glass do with the glass other than take it to the public recycling center?

Justice Industries wants the suggestions to be sound business suggestions. Justice Industries is focused on creating businesses “that provide jobs opportunity, training and support for those caught in the trap of generational poverty or chronic under-employment.”

Some previous suggestions have centered on craft uses for the bottles such as making them into lamps. This is too labor intensive and, as we glass people know, the percentage of success in drilling bottles is low.

Another suggestion has been to establish a small bottling plant that could sterilize the bottles and redistribute them to craft or home brewers. The jars could also be sterilized and redistributed to home canners/bottlers. Is this practical or even affordable?

Glass is used in road pavement. How can these recyclables be sold to those pavers or asphalt plants? Are they interested in, as compared to large public glass recyclers, the small quantities Just.Glass will provide?

Phillip DeFranco said, “A good man fights for himself and his; A great man fights for everyone else.”

Think creatively. What are your suggestions? Your ideas are needed. Thanks for your help.

Bill Evans is president, Evans Glass Co., Nashville, Tenn.

The opinions expressed here are those of the individual author and do not necessarily reflect those of the National Glass Association, Glass Magazine editors, or other glassblog contributors.


Howdy, Bill Can you get someone like AGC out of Kingsport, TN to buy your glass so they can use it as cullet? Do you have enough glass to make it worthwhile? David
Sorry this comment isn't really following your instructions but it is on subject. If the subject is what to do with recyclable glass then that's where my comment connects. I've been in the retail glass business for 13 years and about 12 years ago I did some research about recycling the glass that was going to the land fill every week. The answers we received were along the lines of "sort the glass into infinite number of types, colors, and categories and when you get a tractor trailer load of one type, color, etc. we'll pay you for it. If you don't have a tractor trailer full you'll have to pay us to haul it away." Considering I don't have room for "umpteen" tractor trailers in my back lot, I have a small (maybe 3 yard) trash dumpster that gets all my glass and trash for the week and it gets hauled to the local landfill every week by the local sanitation company...for 12 to 13 YEARS! How many other retail glass shops do the same? How many tons of glass go to landfills every week? And the great world wide web answer for "how long it takes for glass to decompose" million years! Perhaps there are a lot of opportunities for glass recycling. Or maybe something's changed in the last 12 years and I should do some more research about finding a recycler. It sure would be nice if someone had an answer for this dilemma also.
I have asked repeatedly for years why we can't recycle the trashed float glass from the shops I have worked at. There isn't a week that goes by that a customer will ask me that question also. The only explanation I got was that there was to much lead in the glass to process safely and the cost was greater than making it new. So, what's the real scoop? You would think we could save bundles.
We are an architectural art glass company that has been interested in using recycled glass in making thick glass slabs for counters, floors, etc. We have found the greatest obstacle is the chemical composition of the glass. Bottle glass, colored glass, shower doors, pane glass, etc can have different components that make firing them together impossible. Even with plate glass, the source of the glass, e.g.- PPG, Pilkington, Guardian, etc can be different enough that the firing and annealing points can make them incompatible. There are some companies that use bits of recycled glass with other composite materials, but we are focused on making 100% glass slabs. We have had limited success in breaking up old shower doors and re-firing them, but we are limited by the size of each door. At least when the glass lands in the landfills, it's not emitting voc's and it does eventually degrade back to sand.
Several years ago I saw on TV a house that was built from glass bottles. They were mortared in such that the light came in throug the bottoms. It was colorful, sort of a polka dot, matrix look.

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