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Not all colored glass can be recycled Eye on the Environment

Post Time:Aug 28,2013Classify:Company NewsView:402

Are beer drinkers more environmentally conscious than wine drinkers? Not to whine about wine, but the recycling rate for wine bottles is 34 percent nationwide versus 41 percent for beer and soda bottles, according to the Glass Packaging Institute. he biggest reason for this difference is that many states, including California, exclude wine bottles from “bottle bills.” You can sell any empty beer bottle to a local recycling center for 5 cents (or 10 cents for bottles over 24 ounces), but most recyclers will not pay you anything for wine bottles.

 

The dramatic effect of “bottle bills” is illustrated by this startling statistic: The recycling rate for glass bottles covered by the California redemption value system is 84 percent, according the California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery, a number possibly inflated by some bottles from out-of-state being sold here, despite safeguards against this practice.

 

In many parts of the country, an added problem for wine bottles is the lack of markets for green glass. Fortunately, California does not have that problem. The glass bottle manufacturers make bottles for the local wine industry, so recyclers do not have to resort to low-value uses like “glassphalt” (mixing glass into asphalt for roads).

 

Markets are the key to recycling because demand for recycled-content products determines the price paid for incoming recyclables, and this affects the motivation of consumers, collectors, and sorting centers to recycle more.

 

On the positive side, some glass manufacturers are reducing the weight of their wine bottles. This trend accelerated in 2009, when Fetzer Vineyards, one of the largest American winemakers, announced 16 percent lighter bottles.

 

This type of waste prevention is called “source reduction” and is more environmentally beneficial than recycling, since it avoids a long chain of resource consumption, from collection to manufacturing and distribution.

 

Some may remember a different type of source reduction for bottles. Years ago, some bottles were returnable. After washing, they were reused. This practice diminished as labor and transportation costs rose, styles of wine bottles diversified, and the cost of manufacturing new bottles dropped. Eventually, bottle washing facilities became too spread apart to justify either the economic or the environmental costs of trucking empty bottles between collection sites, washing facilities, bottling plants, and distribution centers.

 

Most bottles collected in Ventura County, whether bought by a recycling center or separated from the contents of curbside carts at a sorting center, are prepared for recycling at Strategic Materials, which has regional factories in Vernon and Commerce, before being melted and formed into new bottles at Owens-Illinois in Vernon or Verallia in Madera. Bill Sorokes, plant manager for Strategic Materials’ Vernon facility, has some advice for recyclers who want to help make recycling as efficient as possible.

 

 

Leave out the pyrex, ceramic, light bulbs, leaded glass and other non-recyclable glass,” he said. Strategic Materials has automated systems designed to remove as many of these contaminants as possible, but when some gets through the system and ends up in the molten glass formed into new bottles, problems can make recycled material less desirable.

 

These other types of glass are not recyclable at Strategic Materials because they have different chemical compositions; various types of glass melt at different temperatures. If glass manufacturing companies form the resulting molten mix into a bottle and sell it to a bottler who fills the bottle with liquid, Sorokes says, “the pressurized container may fracture.” In other words, soda shot into a bottle containing contaminated glass can cause that bottle to explode on the filling line.

 

Glass manufacturers reduce furnace temperatures when making glass from recycled glass instead of from limestone and sand. This reduced energy consumption conserves resources and cuts air pollution. Also, recycling 1,000 tons of glass creates 8.3 jobs, while making 1,000 tons of glass from raw materials creates less than 1 job, according to a 2011 report by the Container Recycling Institute.

 

Keep your eye on the environment by recycling all jars and bottles, including wine bottles, but leave other types of glass out of your recycling bin.

Source: http://www.mpacorn.com/news/2013-08-23/Columns/NotAuthor: shangyi

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