Tuesday, July 15, 2014

How to Recycle Window Glass

By Sophia Bennett

Window glass is extremely difficult to recycle. What are your reuse options?
Say you are replacing the windows in your home or the windshield of your car. Should be a piece of cake to recycle that glass, right? After all, recycling old glass jars and bottles is as easy as putting them in your curbside recycling bin.

Wrong. Due to the differences between bottle glass and window glass, there is no easy way to recycle the latter. If you can get your unwanted windows to one of the few places that turn old windows into new products, you can be part of the recycling solution. If not, it is best to look for reuse options.

Recycling bottle glass versus window glass

window-recycling.jpgBottle glass is one of the most recyclable items around. By contrast, it is very difficult to recycle window glass. Why the disparity?
Though the two products may seem virtually the same, there are actually some notable differences between them. Bottle glass has a different chemical composition and melting temperature than window glass, meaning the two products cannot be recycled together.

Bottle manufacturers have invested in the equipment needed to crush bottles and remelt them. This infrastructure is vital to making recycling work. In addition, bottles are a fairly uniform and easy-to-identify product.

Window glass is a trickier proposition. Most windows come attached to metal or wooden frames and have to be disassembled, which is labor intensive and expensive. And, picking out the different types of window glass poses a bit more of a challenge.

Take, for example, the two types of window glass listed above. The glass in your home windows is different from the glass in your windshield. Automobile windows are made with safety glass, which is covered with a thin coating of plastic so that if it breaks, it will shatter into tiny pieces and not cause you serious harm. Even different types of automotive glass can vary; your windshield is probably not tinted, while your rear windows may be coated with a different type of plastic that prevents the sun’s rays from penetrating the back of the car.

All these different kinds of window glass cannot be combined to create a new product, and it can be difficult to tell the difference between them. As a result, the industry has said “no” to recycling old windows. Manufacturers who make Pyrex products, light bulbs, mirrors, drinking glasses and many other glass products will also not take back their old wares and attempt to recycle them into new ones for all the same reasons.

Options for reusing window glass

If you are desperate to keep your old windows out of landfills, not all hope is lost. Windows and sliding doors in good condition can be reused as is. Check with your local building supply reuse store, such as a Habitat for Humanity ReStore, to see if they want these items. Although most people want energy-efficient double-paned windows for their homes, old single-pane windows make nice greenhouses and cold frames. In addition, those living in older homes may be looking for period-specific windows.
Creative industry professionals have found other uses for old windows. Building REsources in San Francisco tumbles old glass to remove any sharp edges and give it an opaque appearance. Also known as “beach glass,” Building REsources sells its product for jewelry, landscaping and floral arrangements.

Manufacturers turn window glass into other products

Small- and large-scale manufacturers can use window glass in products other than windows. Companies that make Fiberglas sometimes use window glass. Ground-up glass can be stirred into the reflective yellow and white paint used on roads to give it that eye-catching glittery appearance. Broken glass is combined with concrete to create decorative flooring and countertops.
Aurora Glass, a subsidiary of St. Vincent de Paul in Eugene, OR, melts window glass and turns it into a line of gift products, architectural accents and awards. Aurora’s products, which are made with 100% recycled window glass, come in eight different colors and include sun catchers, ornaments, napkin rings and tiles.

During the 1980s, there was a lot of interest in using ground glass to replace some of the sand in asphalt. Studies conducted on glassphalt, as the product was called, showed that it could be used on surfaces that would see light to medium traffic. However, because of the expensive of grinding and transporting the glass, it was never widely used.
- See more at: http://1800recycling.com/2014/07/recycle-window-glass#sthash.5RPCvHrg.dpuf

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