Recycling Glass Waste Safely in London

In an effort to become more eco-friendly, many people are looking for alternatives to buying food and personal care products in plastic containers.  The natural choice is to switch to glass containers and bottles. However, this leaves many across London wondering how to dispose of all the empty containers properly.

Recycling glass waste in London - image for articleAt the same time, many people are concerned that their efforts to recycle are simply going straight to landfill, so they are targeting the use of the specially provided glass recycling bins and seeking others who will dispose of their glass waste responsibly.  It is hoped that with the current climate emergency and community activism, more London councils will ensure that everyone can find the best way to make sure that their glass waste is recycled correctly.

Why Glass Recycling Is Important

The UK Government is committed to both reducing the amount of plastic used in products sold across the country as well as making sure that more plastic is completely recycled.  Manufacturers have targeted moving from plastic to other, reusable containers.  Glass is a perfect choice as it can be melted down to make new glass products endlessly, making it the perfect zero waste product.  Because it is inert, glass does not react or impact any of the products which are stored inside.

Recycling glass also means that raw materials are left untouched, the best environmental option.  The added benefit is that recycled glass means huge savings in CO2 emissions and energy usage from their replacements of plastic containers.  This greatly benefits the circular, zero waste economy which will help combat climate change.  When glass is recycled, it is crushed into material ready for melting called cullets.

The European glass packaging industry has set in motion what they call “Close the Glass Loop” to boost glass collection for recycling up to 90 by 2030.  Whether it is in the home, at work, or part of a commercial enterprise, learning the best ways to dispose of glass is one of the best ways to ensure that real strides towards reducing our carbon footprint can be made.

Care In Handling Glass Waste

The main sources of glass waste are bottles, jars, glass for art, mirrors, and of course windows.  Even though bottles and jars are separated by colour and cleaned before being melted, they should be thoroughly cleaned prior to recycling.  Most London councils collect glass in recycle bins and bags as well as through special containers at recycling centres located conveniently in communities.

It is recommended that you learn how to handle fragile items like glass, because at some point, you will find yourself having to deal with broken glass.  One of the most useful recommendations is to always wear gloves if at all possible.  Also wear thick soled shoes and remember to keep pets and children away until it is completely cleaned up.  When treating glass cuts and removing glass splinters, always remember to clean the area first, sterilising any tools you use to remove the glass.  After removing any glass, again clean and sterilise the area.

As for the broken glass, any which is used for packaging other goods can be placed in a glass recycling bin.  At present any broken non-recyclable glass like mirrors, Pyrex and broken glass crockery needs to be securely wrapped before disposing in the general waste collection or the individual must find a buildings material recovery company which will take it.  As inconvenient as this may be, it is preferable to it ending up in landfill.

A Word About Vehicle And Flat Glass Recycling

There are many different types of Flat Glass, which is used in mirrors, to protect artwork, dinnerware, drinkware and window glass.  Although most cannot be recycled at present, there is no need for it to go into landfill.  At present the best recommendation is to look for building recycling and building material reuse centres.  It is hoped that going forward, there will be more development in this area to ensure that virtually every type of glass can be recycled, regardless of any tinting or special treatments it has undergone.

As for vehicular glass, there is a need to meet more stringent targets for all vehicle recycling.  Presently, sometimes glass from vehicles is removed before crushing, often it is not.  The glass then needs to be sorted before then being used to create other glass products which could be containers, fibreglass, or aggregate for construction.  Going forward, more stringent focus to ensure all vehicular glass is removed before crushing will help ensure that higher quality cullets can be created.

Moving To A Glass Storage Centric Society

Most experts recommend choosing glass over plastic, particularly for food storage containers.  For personal care and cleaning products, other alternatives may be needed, like using soap bars instead of shower gels.  Currently the UK imports more green glass than it can recycle, mainly through wine consumption.  Currently that is exported for processing, negating any carbon savings.  It is hoped that going forward, UK consumers will accept glass containers of any colour, or begin to bring their own containers from home to the store.

Smart London shoppers will have already noted that some of their favourite brands are already offering “refill” packets at a slight discount to the cost of buying their favourite products in their usual glass container.  This is partially due to the squeeze on manufacturer profitability as the cost of high quality glass cullets has risen, making it less economical to produce their signature glass containers.

Going forward, it is expected eventually that the Government will mandate that all glass products will need to be recycled responsibly and kept out of landfill. With a little care and attention, every household can contribute towards that goal.


Interesting related article: “Using your freezer to prevent food waste.”