Glass Recycling

What's the problem?

Creating glass consumes a lot of resources: raw material, energy, labor, transportation costs and more. Disposing of glass in landfills wastes all that time, effort and materials.

In the Kansas City region, we consume about 80,000 tons of container glass each year. Until recently, only about 5% of that was recycled (although we're getting better!); the national average is 30% or higher and some other countries reuse more than 90% of their glass.

How do I handle it?

One of the biggest reasons glass isn't accepted in your curbside bin? Glass breaks. If broken glass gets into a load of other recyclables like paper or cardboard, it contaminates them and makes the materials unusable and unable to be recycled. In addition, glass poses a safety hazard for the workers who handle the waste, not to mention the danger of broken glass on neighborhood streets or sidewalks.

But that doesn't mean you can't recycle glass in our area! There's likely a big, purple Ripple Glass bin near you where you can easily drop off your glass bottles and containers, and they'll help turn your glass into a variety of new products! And you can drop off glass at a number of community recycling centers in the region.

Accepted Glass:

  • Drink and condiment bottles
  • Jars (pickles, mayonnaise, etc.)
  • Lids and caps
  • Snack containers

Not Accepted Glass:

  • Ceramics
  • Light bulbs
  • Window plate glass
  • Mirrors
  • Pyrex or CorningWare
  • Plates

Why recycle glass?

Aside from keeping glass out of landfills, there are a number of benefits to recycling it:

  • Container glass is 100% recyclable, can be recycled endlessly, and can be used to make a number of products.
  • Using recycled glass produces 20% less air pollution and 50% less water pollution than creating new glass (or fiberglass) from raw materials.
  • Every ton of glass recycled saves more than one ton of raw materials. That means it doesn't have to be mined from the earth, transported, processed, etc.
  • Recycling a single glass bottle saves enough electricity to light a 100-watt light bulb for four hours.
  • Recycling glass provides local businesses with material to make new products, such as fiberglass insulation or new bottles.

How does glass recycling work?

  • Glass bottles and containers are taken to a Ripple Glass bin or your community recycling center.
  • From there, glass is transported to processing plant, where it is decontaminated, crushed into smaller pieces, dried, separated by color, sorted and screened.
  • The crushed and cleaned material — called "cullet" — is transported to companies who will use the cullet to make new products.

What products can be made from recycled glass?

The best glass for recycling is color-sorted and free of all dirt and other contaminants. This higher grade is used to make new bottles, jars, and other containers. Glass that doesn't meet certain standards still has a number of important uses, such as an ingredient in home improvement or construction products. A few typical items made with recycled glass:

    • New glass containers and bottles
    • Fiberglass and fiberglass insulation
    • Reflective paints and roadway products
    • Tile, countertops and floors
    • Abrasives

Locally, the Owens Corning company uses the cullet provided by Ripple Glass to make fiberglass insulation, and Verallia North America uses it to create new glass containers for the beverage and spirits industries, including Kansas City's own Boulevard Brewery.