In addition to its unique physical properties, glass has another unique characteristic. It is one of a very few materials that is infinitely recyclable, and repeated recycling has no impact on either its quality or its purity. A glass beverage container can follow three paths once it has fulfilled its original purpose. It can: (a) be cleaned, reused and repurposed as a container, and refilled with similar or new contents, (b) be recycled and transformed into cullet, i.e. crushed glass of uniform color intended for reuse in the manufacture of new glass containers or fiberglass, or (c) downcycled and used in secondary applications, like golf bunker sand, tiles and countertops or as a component in ceramic bath fixtures.

Other uses for downcyled glass include, among others :

  • Aggregate in concrete and paving materials.
  • Flux agent in brick manufacture.
  • Beach sand replenishment.
  • Sand filters for water filtration.

With regards to manufacturing new glass containers, almost ALL manufacturers use some percentage of cullet as a primary ingredient in addition to the typical raw materials. Doing so reduces energy requirements, which leads to a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, and extends the life of the manufacturer's furnace. All told, utilizing recycled glass requires only 68% of the energy and half of the water typically required in the glass manufacturing process.

The energy saved by the recycling of just one glass bottle is sufficient to power a typical desktop computer for 30 minutes, or a household 60-watt light bulb for four hours.

Recycle five glass containers, and the energy saved would run that same computer for an hour and forty minutes, or light a compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulb for two days!

Other facts:

  • Glass is all-natural, and is made from all-natural ingredients. All of the raw materials are found in their natural forms throughout North America. Most common glass is made of soda ash, limestone, sand and cullet. Since cullet IS glass, it's natural too!
  • Glass is the only packaging material rated "GRAS" or "generally regarded as safe" by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration.
  • Glass is chemically inert, and will not interact with or contaminate its contents. No worries about estrogen mimickers like BPA! Nor will it leech or off gas potentially hazardous materials into the environment.
  • According to the EPA's U.S. Recycling Economic Information Study, the recycling and reuse industry employs more than 1.1 million people, generates an annual payroll of nearly $37 billion and grosses more than $236 billion in annual revenues.
  • Every ton of glass that is recycled results in one ton of raw materials saved to process new glass, including: 1,300 pounds of sand, 410 pounds of soda ash and 380 pounds of limestone.