Recycling glass benefits environment

Since it never decomposes, why not give it a new life?

A few years ago, I found a buried treasure in my backyard. We were adding a garage onto our house and in a dirt pile leftover from the construction I found a 1940s finger nail polish bottle. It was especially meaningful to me because my grandparents lived in the house at that time as newlyweds.

This little glass bottle had not changed at all in the 75 years being buried in the yard. Even the little paint brush was still intact inside the bottle, protected by the glass. I treasure the empty finger nail polish bottle because it might have been used by my grandma at her wedding.

Not all buried glass is a treasure. Glass will never decompose, and when thrown away it takes up precious space in our landfill. Fortunately today we can recycle most of our glass or reuse it and that is good for the environment and everyone.

Food and beverage containers made from glass can be recycled over and over without losing purity or quality. When a ton (2,000 pounds) of glass is recycled, more than a ton of natural resources are saved, including 1,300 pounds of sand, 410 pounds of soda ash, 380 pounds of limestone and 160 pounds of feldspar, according to The Glass Packaging Institute. What this all boils down to is that it is cheaper to recycle glass into new food and beverage containers than to make them out of new glass. Manufacturers and the environment in general save on emissions, consumption of raw materials and energy costs.

It is important to explain why not all types of glass are recyclable. Reuse options should be explored when some glass items are no longer wanted. Dishware, light bulbs, heat resistant glass (Pyrex), ceramic, mirror, window glass and crystal are not able to be recycled. These types of glass are composed by a different recipe, of the natural resources, when being made and can actually damage the furnace used to melt the recyclable glass. If even a small amount is mixed in a batch of recycled glass, it can cause impurities and compromise quality in the new glass containers. And when talking about impurities it is important to avoid contamination when recycling glass. Always rinse out food particles from bottles and jars so that it doesn’t contaminate all the glass in the batch to be recycled, but labels do not need to be removed.

In the 1940s my grandparents didn’t have any other options but to dump unusable glass in a hole and bury it. Today we have options to recycle glass and so many other items. As a community let’s stop putting recyclable items in the landfill where, like glass, they could be there forever. No matter how you recycle — in your city recycle totter, co-mingled bins at the landfill or at the drive-thru Recycle Center, glass is one of the easiest, most cost-effective, good for the environment items to recycle.

Check out our website, bcswmd.com, for more information and please like us on Facebook: Bartholomew County Solid Waste District. You can also check out my finger nail polish bottle at the Bartholomew County 4-H Fair July 7 through 15, in the Family Arts Building under antiques.