How do you repurpose auto glass from a salvage yard?


Quick Answer

Broken glass found in automotive salvage yards or waste dumps is recycled into products such as insulation and carpet-backing material. For more craft-related uses, the glass is re-purposed into decorative pieces, such as paperweights and aquarium pebbles, through the use of kilns or tumblers. The automotive glass must go through a process to remove plastic or PVC layers sandwiched between the glass panes before it can be properly reused.

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Full Answer

Products such as the Andela AWS-2 separate the glass from the plastic layers by feeding the glass through compression rollers. Flailing hammer-like arms knock the glass free from the plastic, while keeping the plastic pieces as large as possible for later removal during screening. Once broken away, the glass can be recycled safely.

With the use of rock tumblers, glass pieces can be worn down to remove sharp edges and can then be used in landscaping. Coarser glass works well as ground cover for decorative shrubs and garden areas. Running the glass through multiple tumbling treatments can produce smoother, polished pieces for use as decorative glass in vases or as aquarium substrate. Thick pieces can also find use as jewelry beads after going through polishing cycles, which rely on using fine grit aluminum oxide.

Glass kilns provide options to melt down the glass and reshape it into another product or as artwork. Small glass kilns turn multiple smaller pieces of glass into artwork through heating the individual pieces together until they fuse and become one solid object. While automotive glass alone does not provide a wide range of color, using other recycled glass of various colors provides additional options when creating pieces in a kiln environment.

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