Products made from recycled glass include jars, bottles and drinking glasses. Recycled glass is also used to make fiberglass insulation, counter tops and to supplement gravel in asphalt for roadways and parking lots.
Glass that is to be recycled is sorted, cleaned and crushed into a product called cullet. Glass manufacturers mix the cullet with other materials to produce new glass products. The cullet used for food and beverage containers must not be made from other types of glass, such as windows and ovenware. These types of glass contain impurities, which could result in a defective product. Other contaminants, such as stones, metal and plastic, must also be avoided.
For this reason, glass bottles and jars that are recycled should be separated from other trash. An estimated 80 percent of recycled glass is used to produce new food containers, and if care is taken, glass can be recycled forever with no loss in quality.
Any recycled glass that isn’t suitable for food containers can be used in other products, such as tile, insulation and decorative objects that don’t require high-quality cullet. By using cullet made from recycled glass, manufacturers can avoid using up to 95 percent of the raw materials that would otherwise have been needed. Cullet also requires less energy to be used in the manufacturing process.