Glass recycling: a way to cut energy use




Every time you step out in the streets of Dhaka city, a grotesque scene awaits. It’s the people recklessly littering roads and pavements. It is a personal choice that can be easily avoided by establishing the idea that everything around us belongs to us and that it is our responsibility to look after the environment. Litter begets litter. Litter prevention starts with you. So, let’s set an example for others to follow. Unlike littering, recycling keeps trash from building up in our soils. So, this new year, add another resolution to not be a litter-bug and keep the city clean.

Recycling is the last component of the 3R’s-reduce, reuse and recycle, it is the process of converting used, waste materials into reusable forms. Metals like aluminum, copper, gold, steel etc., paper (except soiled paper and coated-paper products) and some forms of plastic are recyclable. Others materials like glass is 100% recyclable. The need of glass recycling arises as it is not biodegradable therefore cannot decompose at landfills. Also, recycling does not affect its quality hence can be infinitely recycled. The process begins with sorting out glasses of different colors: amber, emerald and clear. This step is mandatory as colored glasses have different properties due to presence of different oxides. All plastic and metal caps are removed from the glass, it is then thoroughly washed to remove impurities before being crushed to form ‘cullet’. Crushed glass is passed through a vertical dryer that blows hot air and removes paper labels. Cullet is one of the raw materials used in the manufacture of new glass. Soda ash, limestone and sand are mixed with cullet and heated to about 1500 degrees Celsius. The resulting molten glass is poured onto molds. Air is blown onto the molds to create the hollow shape of bottles and jars and allowed to cool. However, it should be noted that when recycling glass packaging glasses are always recycled together. Glass products like light bulbs, Pyrex, test tubes, ceramics, vases etc. must be excluded. These have additions of compounds like borosilicate, considered to be contaminants. Recycling all the types together will compromise the strength and quality of the new glass.

The benefits of recycling are superb, just have a look on the given statistics. According to Clean Up Australia, recycled glass takes 60% less energy to manufacture than virgin glass. The cullet used lowers the melting point of the mixture. This reduces the stress on the commonly used energy source, fossil fuels, which are non-renewable. Landfill space is saved which can be better used for other non-recyclable materials. Availability of landfills is a growing concern among many countries as it is increasingly getting filled up. Recycling also opens a lot of job opportunities in the community helping to fight unemployment. Moreover, an article by University of Central Oklahoma states that air pollution is reduced by 20% and water pollution by a staggering 50% due to recycling.

Recycling, in short, cuts down everything that is harmful for the environment. It is a crucial step in ‘going green’ and protecting the earth and its inhabitants.





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