Where does glass go after leaving your recycling bin?
Initially, it goes to storage companies called “recyclers”. Once they have accumulated a sufficient quantity of a particular colour of glass, they sell it to a factory that does the actual recycling.
After arriving at the factory, the glass is separated from other recyclable materials (metal, plastic, paper). Various chemicals and mechanical equipment are used to grind, purify, melt and remake the glass. The newly made bottles are returned to businesses while the rest are sent to third parties to be used for other purposes.
Surprisingly, glass can be recycled indefinitely without loss of quality or quantity.
Since the manufacturing processes of glass products differ, objects such as lamps, dishes and windows are not recycled for domestic pickup, although they can be salvaged at places such as eco-centers. Only glass containing lead is not recyclable.
As glass does not decompose, the recycling process is essential. According to the Société des alcools du Québec (SAQ), recovery of recycled glass reduces air pollution by 20% and manufacturing energy costs by 32%.
According to a 2010 report by Eco Entreprises Québec and RECYC-Québec, the recovery rate of recycled glass is 82.1%. This represents an 18% increase in three years. Out of all recyclable materials, glass has the best recovery rate – with plastics being the worst (32.6%). Beverage bottles and food containers are the source of this recycled glass.
Before being recycled, bottles and empty containers should be given a quick rinse with water. For safety reasons, most recyclers ask citizens to not break the bottles although some collectors will do it themselves to save space in their collection vehicles.