With attention turning increasingly to sustainable building design, recycled glass is one option that is getting a lot of attention. Recycled glass is finding its way into a wide range of uses, from countertops to glass tiles. One of the questions you might have is whether recycled glass is a good option for your project. Let’s take a look.
About Recycled Glass
When many products are recycled, they become weaker and have different properties than new materials. One example of this is plastics. On the other hand, glass is different. It can be recycled again and again without any loss in quality. Glass that you put in your recycling bin is made into a substance known as “cullet.” Glass in this form is like a fine sand-like material made from crushed bottles, jars, windows, and other types of glass.
Cullet is mixed with sand, limestone, and other raw materials. It is melted and formed into many new products. In the United States, about 10-million tons of glass are thrown away each year, but only about 33% ever gets recycled.
What Is Made from Recycled Glass?
Today, most glass contains at least some portion of recycled glass. It is thought that for every 10% of cullet included in the mix, a 5% reduction in CO2 emissions and a 2-3% drop in energy consumption occurs.
The most common use for recycled glass is in beverage containers that contain about 80% recycled material. Now, recycled glass is used in glass tiles and countertops that give the home a distinctive look. Recycled glass is also being used for bowls and other accessories for the home.
What About Quality
One of the consumer complaints about recycled glass is that it can have a filmy appearance compared to new glass. The problem is not the glass itself but manufacturers who have inefficient means to remove contaminants and impurities. When glass cannot be used for decorative purposes, it is being used for applications like a filler in concrete. The construction industry is starting to explore how to use recycled glass as structural glass in green building design as a cheaper alternative to new glass.
Currently, the supply chain for recycled glass in the U.S. cannot supply enough recycled glass to make an impact on the need to create new glass. When you are considering your next home improvement or building project, you might want to look into recycled glass as one alternative.