The Green, Green Glass of Home

Private Property South Africa
Shaun Wewege

Infomercials and unscrupulous sales people often try flog products under the premise that these items are “miraculous” or have some property that makes them beyond compare. As a rule, these advertisements tend to be lies. The miracle floor cleaner is no better than a supermarket brand, the car wax eats paint, the fitness device can’t compare to the one at your local gym. If, however, someone were to make an infomercial about the wonders of glass, they wouldn’t be telling tall tales.

Glass does not affect its contents, is impermeable, can be used in microwave ovens, does not deteriorate, corrode, stain nor fade. The main reason to choose glass is that it is recyclable. While this is not groundbreaking news, the fact that recycled glass can be used for the following is:

• Aggregate in concrete: the glass adds to the aesthetic appeal of concrete but also offers improved thermal insulation

• Flux agent in brick making

• Recycled glass can be used in the manufacture of Astroturf

• Golf courses can use high-grade sand made from recycled glass in filling bunkers

• It can be used as an abrasive

• Finely crushed glass can be used in filtration systems

• Glass mulch is becoming common as a groundcover, being used in paving walkways, water features and counter tops

A major use of recycled glass is in the manufacture of bottles. This may seem a trivial but processing used glass (even if only to make new bottles) places less strain on the environment than manufacturing bottles from scratch. Another major benefit is that crushed glass, referred to as "cullet," is an incredibly cost effective raw material and melts faster.

Glass banks are becoming more popular as are bins for the household. Glass bottles and jars of any colour, broken or whole, can be placed in household bins or banks. The bottles don’t have to be washed prior to recycling but it is preferable to remove corks and lids. It is also not necessary to separate different coloured glass.

There are some items that cannot be added to glass banks or household bins:

• Light bulbs

• Car headlights

• Drinking glasses

• Ceramic dishware

• Plate glass (window panes)

• Computer and TV screens

• Crockery and cookware

• Laboratory glass

• Wire reinforced glass

Some of the above (lightbulbs in particular) can be recycled separately. A number of shopping malls have bins where old light bulbs can be thrown.

To find a recycling centre in your area, visit http://www.theglassrecyclingcompany.co.za

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