Non-Bottle Glass

Broken glass, glass mirror, glass windshield, glass casserole dish

What is it?

All items that are made of glass are not created the same.
•    Windshield glass is called laminated safety glass and has a layer of plastic (poly-vinyl butyral) added to it. If it breaks it remains relatively intact rather than shattering in an accident. [1]
•    Decking, railing, and other construction needs may use tempered glass which undergoes a process (heating followed by sudden cooling) that makes it a more durable product. [2]
•    A window is panes of glass with a gas layer (ex: argon). [3]
•    Fibreglass is a type of insulation made of spun glass coated in a binding agent [4]
•    Light bulbs are composed of thin glass encasing; tungsten metal coil (incandescent), mercury vapor gas (fluorescent), or light emitting diode (LED), for containment and light diffusion [5].
•    Glass mirrors have a layer of silver or aluminum, and may additionally be coated with tin chloride or paint, to make them reflective. [6]
•    Ornamental, or stained glass is coloured by the addition of various metallic oxides [7].
•    Dishware can be made of Vitrelle, which has two different kinds of glass. [8]
•    Ovenware can be borosilicate glass, containing boric oxide, to withstand thermal shock. [9]


What is the issue?

Recycling glass involves super-heating it to a liquid or molten state so it can be reformed into new products. Non-bottle glass includes different chemicals than food grade glass [10]. The extra materials in non-bottle glass, like plastic, silver, or metallic oxides, can act as contaminants which can be difficult to remove and/or not safe to handle.


Where can it go?

“Other Glass” is in so many industries – automotive, construction, and household goods – that a recycling or repurposing program to cover it all does not exist.
Each product would need its own separate recycling process to deal with its specific chemical components. In Saskatchewan, out of all the items listed above light bulbs [12] is the only one that has an established recycling option.
Because glass is durable, reuse is often an option. Construction materials that are still in good condition may be able to go to the Habitat for Humanity ReStore for resale [13]. Glass household items, from mirrors to ovenware, could be resold, repurposed, or passed along so they remain in use.


What happens after?

Glass is inert, meaning that it does not interact with other elements or chemicals that it comes in contact with. For this reason, glass can be crushed and ground up to be used as aggregate in roadbed construction or other applications. Crushing glass could also yield contaminants, depending on the type of glass. The extra materials, if released into nature may pose health & safety risks to both humans and the environment.
Glass in a landfill tends to pose few problems beyond taking up space. Unfortunately, most of the non-bottle glass generated in Saskatchewan currently ends up in landfill.


How can I reduce?

•    Before you buy anything, ask yourself the question; “Do I really need this?”
•    Reuse and repurpose as much as possible, taking advantage of glass’s strength and durability.
•    Buy used when possible. Items like décor, dishware, ovenware, and mirrors can be found second-hand, on the internet or in many charity shops and thrift stores.
•    Fix and repair glass items with an adhesive or an epoxy.

References:
[1] https://www.carwindshields.info/how-a-windshield-is-made - accessed August 31, 2021
[2] http://www.glassdynamicsllc.com/heatresistantglass.html - accessed August 26, 2021
[3] https://fgiaonline.org/pages/understanding-glass-standards - accessed August 31, 2021
[4] https://www.ehow.com/about_6540672_fiberglass-insulation-made_.html - accessed September 23, 2021
[5] http://www.madehow.com/Volume-1/Light-Bulb.html - accessed September 21, 2021
[6] https://www.technology.org/2019/07/04/why-mirrors-are-always-made-from-glass-why-cant-we-make-from-something-that-doesnt-break/ - accessed September 21, 2021
[7] https://www.britannica.com/art/stained-glass - accessed September 21, 2021
[8] https://ceramics.org/ceramic-tech-today/glass-science-at-the-holiday-dinner-table-how-corelle-dishes-are-made - accessed September 23, 2021
[9] https://www.nytimes.com/wirecutter/blog/tempered-vs-borosilicate-glass/ - accessed September 23, 2021
[10] https://info.glass.com/can-glass-shower-doors-be-recycled/ - accessed September 21, 2021
[11] https://lifewithoutplastic.com/glass-ceramic/ - accessed September 24, 2021
[12] https://klightrecycling.com/about-us/ - accessed September 23, 2021
[13] https://habitat.ca/en/restore/donate-to-a-restore - accessed September 24, 2021