Recycling glass is one of the many ways we can help reduce pollution and waste. Everyday we throw away tones of rubbish and glass is a significant part of it. Instead of letting landfills pile up with glass objects that are a threat to safety and the environment, we can use it again.
Glass can be melted down and made into many different forms from drinking glasses to glass fiber. When the glass is taken to a manufacturing or recycling plant, it is broken up into smaller pieces called cullet.
The broken pieces are crushed, sorted, cleaned, and prepared to be mixed with other raw materials like soda ash and sand. The raw materials and glass pieces are melted in a furnace and then shaped into moulds to make new bottles of different colors and sizes. New recycled bottles and jars are made in this way.
In countries like USA, there are curbside recycling schemes, which have specially demarcated boxes to collect glass that can be recycled. Some supermarkets, car parks and other public areas have glass bottle banks, where you can take your recyclable jars and bottles.
This is how I do it at my studio:
Idea for a recycling project
Here is an idea that involves doing your own research, collecting data and building a recycle mode for display.
Tracking glass waste
In your neighborhood or in the school, you can track the different kinds of glasses that are disposed. Green, amber, clear. Track them over a week to get a better picture of what kind of glass objects we throw into the bin.
Collect end product of different stages
To display your project, make a chart showing the recycling process and show the end product after each stage. Get old bottles that can be recycled to produce new bottles. It would be better if the bottles are from the neighborhood bins.
Collect bottles of different shapes and colours. Clean them with soap and water and remove paper labels. Take their metal strips and caps off. Arrange the bottles in a line. Sort them by colour- green, amber and clear. This is the first stage of recycling.
After the glass bottles are washed they are cut into small pieces called cullets. With adult supervision, and using gloves, you can break the glasses or collect the cullets from the local recycling plant.
For the melting of the mixture of raw materials and cullets, you should not attempt to make a furnace because such high temperatures can be achieved only at a recycling plant. Never try this at home.
Calculate the benefits of recycling in your neighbourhood
For every glass that is recycled, calculate the saving made in raw materials, reduction in disposal cost, and also calculate the benefit to landfills. You will have to apply this calculation to the total amount of glass containers/bottles used and recycled in your area. Find out what percentage of it is actually being recycled. You can take adult help to speak to the local authorities or visit the local recycling plant to find out the numbers.
An environmental artist