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Glass is used to package many food products: juices, jellies, vegetable oils, baby food, and so on. Glass makes up about five percent of the municipal solid waste stream by weight, two percent by volume.

After source reduction (using less glass to make a glass jar, for example), the best way to deal with glass trash is recycling. Unlike paper, burning glass in waste-to-energy plants is not a good alternative to recycling. Glass does not provide any heat energy for making steam or electricity. Paper burns in a waste-to-energy plant; glass just melts. Landfilling glass recovers none of its value either. So, recycling is usually the best choice.

Recycling glass is a relatively good energy saver. Using recycled glass to make new glass products requires 40 percent less energy than making it from all new materials. It saves energy because crushed glass, called cullet, melts at a lower temperature than the raw materials used to make glass. New glass is made from sand, soda ash, and limestone.

Old glass is easily made into new glass jars and bottles or into other glass products like fiberglass insulation. And unlike paper, glass jars and bottles can be recycled over and over again. The glass doesn't wear out.

Source: Energy Kids page (link listed in the right column)

Most glass is recycled by curbside recycling programs. If not, it can often be brought to your local recycling center for recycling. Sometimes, the glass is recycled into "glassphault" or is used as a landfill covering over normal waste materials.

Examples: glass bottles, glass jars, glassware

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  • Division of Materials Management
    Bureau of Waste Reduction and Recycling
    625 Broadway
    Albany, NY 12233-7253
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