We all know that glass is recycled in the green container , but not all of us know why it is important to recycle glass. It is a material that can be recycled in its entirety, in addition to an unlimited number of times. Recycling glass helps reduce energy consumption, reduces waste, thereby reducing pollution and environmental problems, and also the consumption of other raw materials.
Why is it important to recycle glass and what is achieved
It is important to recycle glass because with the simple gesture of recycling our glass bottles, and other pieces of this material, you can achieve:
- Reduction in waste significantly and thus prevent it from going to the landfill. It is estimated that with 3,000 recycled bottles, 1,000 kg of waste is prevented from going to the landfill.
- Improvements in air quality and reduction in air pollution . Air pollution can be reduced by up to 20%. It is estimated that with 10% recycled packaging, up to 8% fewer particles are emitted into the atmosphere, 10% sulfuric oxides and 4% nitrogen oxides. The reason is that the manufacture of new containers is greatly reduced, which also reduces the use of fuels and with it, the emission of gases and particles.
- Reduction in greenhouse gas emissions for the above reason. For every ton of recycled glass, around 300 kg of CO2 emitted into the atmosphere are avoided during the manufacturing processes.
- Reduction in water pollution by up to 40%.
- Savings in energy consumption . In the manufacture of containers from recycled glass, you can save between 20 and 30% of energy. This is due to the fact that the melting point of recycled glass is lower than that of the raw materials that are usually used to make new packaging, and therefore also the energy that is needed in the process.
- Saving raw materials and with various benefits for the environment. By recycling 3,000 bottles, it is estimated that 1.2 tons of raw material (sand, limestone and sodium carbonate) can be saved. In addition, by saving on virgin materials, extraction needs are also reduced, with the consequent benefit for the environment.
- Saving resources, because with glass recycling, the glass manufacturing industry itself could be supplied with up to 30% of the necessary resources.
Glass is a material that is present in bottles, glasses or light bulbs and is one of the most abundant components of garbage, both industrial and domestic.
The glass recycling process begins with its separate collection in the green container . Once this step is done, it is continued with its cleaning by treating it with chemical products, which manage to eliminate possible dirt, sand or grease. Then plastic, paper and other debris items are also removed. When the glass is clean, it is passed through sieves until it reaches the desired granulometry. Subsequently, all possible metal remains are removed by using magnets. The result of these processes is the calcine or glass crushed and prepared to be melted again. Finally, it is mixed 50% with sand, sodium hydroxide and limestone. Thus, recycled glass is obtained and with the same properties as the one that is manufactured.
In the countries of the European Union a minimum recycling of 60% of glass is required , Spain exceeded that figure in 2007, but in countries such as Sweden, Switzerland or Belgium, the figures exceed 90%.
Ecovidrio is the waste management system that promoted the green dot, in which glass manufacturers pay a tax that finances the recycling of packaging. In Spain, the glass recycling process consists of recovering the containers and transforming them into calcine in recycling plants (as we have already explained), however in countries like Germany it is possible to reuse containers without subjecting them to new manufacturing processes, but simply with washing them is enough.
Green containers that selectively collect glass began to be installed in Spanish cities and towns during the 80s and today, they collect most of the glass. For example, between 2003 and 2007, around 10 kg of glass were collected per inhabitant to almost 15. According to the Ministry of the Environment, citizens are much more aware of the need to recycle glass. However, outside the home environment such as at work, on the street, at school or in universities, there is still much to do.