Only One Planet

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Glass never wears out, so it can be recycled forever without any reduction in quality or properties. The average glass bottle in the UK already contains about 25% of recycled material and green glass bottles are much higher at 60-90% recycled. Every year the UK consumes approximately 2 million tonnes of glass  but only 440,000 tonnes (22%) are recycled. This figure exceeds 50% in mainland Europe, with some countries exceeding 70%. Around half the glass collected is green glass, one third clear with the remainder being brown glass.

The cost savings of recycling glass are found in the reduced use of energy. High temperatures are needed to melt and combine all the raw ingredients used to make glass, but recycled glass melts at a much lower temperature and so less energy is required to melt it when added to a batch of raw material. Therefore, adding larger amounts of crushed, washed recycled glass (known as cullet) to the raw materials used to make glass results in substantial energy savings. For every glass bottle recycled, enough energy is saved to run a 100-watt light bulb for four hours.

There are other benefits to using cullet in glass manufacture. When a glass bottle is recycled, 20% less air pollution and 50% less water pollution are produced than when a new glass bottle is made from original ingredients. One tonne of glass produced from raw materials creates about 175 kgs of mining waste, but using even 50% of recycled glass as opposed to raw materials reduces the amount of mining waste produced by three quarters. And, of course, recycling glass also results in a reduction of the total amount of landfill space taken up by used bottles and jars.

There are over 20,000 "Bottle Banks" in the UK, situated mainly in car parks, at supermarkets and in municipal waste centres. In  most cases the banks are divided up into clear, green and brown glass.

Here's a list of pointers issued by the glass recycling industry designed to make the process as efficient as possible:

  1. Always take refillable bottles, with or without a deposit, back to the supplier. Never put milk bottles in a glass recycling bottle bank - always return them to the milkman.
  2. Before putting glass into bottle banks, empty and rinse the containers and remove any bottle caps or corks.
  3. At the bottle bank, separate clear, brown and green glass and place into the appropriate bottle banks. Place blue bottles in the green bottle bank.
  4. Only deposit glass containers such as bottles and jars - food, pharmaceutical and household items packaged in glass are all recyclable as well as beer and wine bottles.
  5. Never deposit window glass, light bulbs, Pyrex or Visionaware cooking dishes or glass crockery items in the bottle banks.
  6. If a bottle is decorated i.e. coated with printing inks, paints or a plastic sleeve, look at the top of the bottle or jar where the cap has been and see what colour the glass is to determine which bank to put it in.
  7. Try to plan your trip to the bottle bank along with other essential errands such as shopping or school runs.
  8. Don't leave cardboard boxes or plastic carrier bags used to bring the glass to the bottle bank unless there is a bin for these materials on site.
  9. Never go to the bottle bank late at night as your visit may disturb local residents.
  10. If you find your bottle bank is full, please try again another day.
  11. Persuade a friend or relative to recycle glass too, and help the environment!

Recycled glass finds its way into an amazing variety of uses:

  • Drain pipe bedding & backfill
  • Septic tank drain fields
  • French drains
  • Retaining wall backfill
  • Aggregate base for roads
  • Asphalt paving
  • Landscaping
Concrete Items
  • Stepping stones
  • Retaining wall blocks
  • Garden ornaments
  • Pottery
Glass Products
  • Fiberglass
  • Marbles
  • Eco-glass
  • Glass beads
  • Jewelry
  • Marblite
  • Opacified flat glass
  • Pressed glass
  • Sintered Mosaic tiles
  • Synthetic marble
  • Terrazzo
  • Industrial flooring
  • Roof tiles


Glass Sand
  • Sandblasting
  • Landfill cover
  • Golf course sand traps
  • Weighted bags for vehicle traction
  • Beach sand
  • Hydroponics
  • Ice control (salt replacement)
  • Oil spill cleanup


  • Electro-magnetized wastewater
    filter medium
  • Filter sand for septic tank
  • Water filter medium


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This page last updated: 10 June 2002