EGlass is one of the everyday materials with the best recycling system. It is possible to reuse and recycle it as many times as necessary, without losing its characteristics or properties. It is estimated that, by recycling glass, we save 30-40% of energy compared to the first time it was obtained. But what do we know about glass?
Glass, like plastic, is obtained from non-renewable raw materials, (silica calcium and sodium in the case of glass). Silica is the main material, and it is abundant and easily found in nature. The glassmaking process begins with the mixing of the sand, -where the silica is found-, with sodium carbonate and limestone. When you melt them together in an oven at a temperature of about 1400 ° C you obtain a very hot paste that is then shaped into the desired form. Finally, the molded glass is cooled and cut for use. Due to the high temperatures (1200ºC – 1500ºC) necessary for its melting, glass is the material with more energy expenditure in its production, much more than plastic. This is one of the reasons why it is so important to reuse and recycle it.
Among the most common glass elements, glass bottles stand out. In many cases, it is not necessary to even recycle them, it is only necessary to wash and reuse them.
When it comes to recycling, the main problem is the color. For example, a green bottle cannot become a transparent bottle. Therefore, the bottles need to be separated into three groups of colors before recycling: transparent, green and amber.
Disadvantages of glass
When comparing advantages and disadvantages, we need to look at the whole life cycle of the glass, not only at the process of recycling. One of the disadvantages of glass appears during distribution and storage. If we compare it with plastic, glass is not only heavier, but also more delicate. A plastic bottle that falls to the ground will not break, but a glass bottle will likely do. This makes transport of glass products more expensive and complicated . And not only for the companies that deal with these products, but also, indirectly, for cities. Trucks that transport glass will be heavier than those that transport plastic, creating greater waste of roads or streets. This makes us question, is glass really worth it?
We have already mentioned the abundance of the raw materials in nature that are necessary to make glass and the capacity to recycle glass products infinitely. However, there are more advantages to recycling glass. As discussed previously, producing glass involves a high level of energy expenditure, but recycling glass, not only avoids direct extraction of raw materials from nature, but also saves energy since the melting temperature of recycled glass is lower than the melting temperature of the original materials.
One more aspect to bear in mind is related to our health. glass does not “contaminate” food. Unlike plastic, which releases toxic substances that are transferred into our food and drink, or aluminum that leaves flavor in drinks, glass is an inert material, making it safer for consumption. (It is important to note that glass and cristal differs from each other by the presence of metals they contain. Crystal usually contains a greater amount of Lead (II) oxide, which makes it more moldable and with a lower melting point. This is the reason that crystals cannot be recycled together with glass).
I believe that, in other to fight plastic, it is necessary to have understand the alternatives that are available and which flaws they might present. this way, we will be able to see the whole picture. We must also remember that the fact that a product is recyclable is not an excuse to use it excessively. Our goal should be to become more productive and sustainable. It is useless if we stop wasting plastic while we start wasting other materials. We must become responsible consumers.