Do you recycle? Each day, you probably have many opportunities to recycle. For example, your school might have recycling bins set up, so that you can recycle all sorts of products, from paper to plastic. You might also have recycling bins set up at home for aluminum cans or newspapers.
Your parents might also have recycling bins where they work. Have you learned about the importance of recycling? The natural resources available on Earth are being used up by the billions of people who live here.
We all need to learn to reduce the amount of resources we use. We also need to try to reuse items as often as possible. If we can’t reuse items, we must strive to recycle items, so that they can be used over and over again.
But can everything be recycled? No, not all things can be recycled. But you might be surprised to learn how many things CAN be recycled. In addition to aluminum cans, plastic bottles and all sorts of paper, you can also recycle glass!
You probably use all sorts of glass items. Just check your refrigerator at home. How many glass jars and bottles do you see? If you’re like most people, you probably use over 80 pounds of glass items every year.
Although glass is fragile and can break easily, it can be recycled and used again to make all sorts of things. Unfortunately, most people only recycle a small portion of the glass they use. Recycling glass can help the environment, though, because recycling glass causes less air and water pollution and uses less energy than producing new glass.
When glass arrives at a recycling plant, people and machines sort it by color. Similar colors of glass must be recycled together, so that recycled products are as pure as possible to maximize their strength and prevent breakage.
Once glass is sorted by color, it’s washed thoroughly to remove any dirt or other impurities. Once the glass has been sorted and clean, the breaking begins. That’s right! The recycling process begins with the crushing of the glass into a raw material called cullet.
Glass manufacturers love cullet, because it’s cheaper than the raw materials they’d otherwise need to produce new glass. It also melts at a lower temperature, so they save energy during the production process.
Glass manufacturers mix cullet with other materials like limestone, sand, and soda ash, and heat it to over 2600º F to make liquid glass, which can then be poured into a mold to cool and form a finished glass product.
Most recycled glass is used to make new glass containers, such as jars and bottles. However, recycled glass can also find its way into all sorts of other products, including fiberglass insulation, ceramic tiles and a variety of construction products.