Wednesday, June 18, 2014

How Long Does it Take for Glass to Decompose?

Being in the recycling industry, I always find it interesting to hear facts about materials that haven’t been recycled. Sometimes we may think that throwing an aluminum can, plastic jug or glass bottle in the trash isn’t that big of a deal. On the contrary, it’s actually startling to hear how long some of these items take to decompose in a landfill. Today we’re going to take a closer look at glass and how long it’ll sit in the landfill for. Hold on to your seats, you’re in for a shock!
Let’s start with some fast facts about glass. First, glass is 100% recyclable. To top it off, it can be recycled endlessly without loss in quality or purity. How neat is that? Glass is made from readily available domestic materials, such as sand, soda ash, limestone and “cullet,” which is just a fancy industry term for furnace ready scrap glass. These materials are mixed, or “batched,” and then heated to a temperature of 2600 to 2800 degrees Fahrenheit. From there glass can be molded into the desired shape. 
So how do we benefit from recycling glass? We benefit from recycling in a variety of ways. First, recycled glass reduces emissions and consumption of raw materials. Second, manufacturers benefit because it extends the life of plant equipment, such as furnaces, and lastly, recycling glass saves energy. 
So the big question. How long will glass sit in a landfill if it’s not recycled? The answer? A million years. As if that isn’t long enough, sometimes glass containers may not even break down at all. That number is mind boggling. The crazy part is that glass doesn’t degrade during the recycling process so essentially your glass pickle jar can be recycled over and over and over again.  

So next time you open your trash bin and think about throwing your glass container in with the trash, think twice. Take the time to put it in the recycling bin.