Glass: How much is your recycling worth?

Council pick-up? Or bottle deposit machine? 

In part 2 of our series on recycling effectiveness, ReCircle’s Daniel Milne looks at the best way to recycle glass.

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Video transcript:

Hi. I’m continuing my investigation into the best ways to recycle in our home. We’ve looked at plastic but today we're going to look at glass. 

Now in this bag there are the three colours of glass: clear brown and green. These colours need to be kept separate for the glass to be closed-loop recycled - that’s when glass gets turned back into other glass products - jar to jar,  bottle to bottle, etc. 

If they're not kept separate then they have to be “downcycled” into low-grade products such as road base, or even worse, get turned into landfill. If the colours are kept separate though they’re worth 20 times more to manufacturers. 

Downcycled glass is worth $8-12 per tonne, whereas closed-loop recycled glass is worth $170-240 per tonne. Landfill is worth nothing, in fact it costs councils roughly $35-65 per tonne to dump - a cost that is passed on to you the consumer in your council rates. 

So what happens when I put my glass items into my recycling bin? Well it’s definitely the most convenient, but is it the most effective solution? 

The glass gets mixed in with everything else and then has to be separated, which is a lengthy and costly process. As a result 80% of the glass in your recycling bin gets sent straight to landfill. 7% is downcycled and only 13% is closed-loop recycled. 

If I make the effort to travel to a bottle deposit machine my options are still limited. It will only accept small bottles, which is fine if you're a beer drinker – but that nice bottle of vino I was hoping to recycle gets rejected. 

Once collected the glass get mixed just like in your bin and still has to be separated. I get a few dollars for my efforts, but only 50% of the glass here is closed-loop recycled. 20% is downcycled and the other 30% is still ending up as landfill. Now I think we can all agree that these two options aren't great. 

Luckily here at ReCircle Recycling they have designed and patented an appliance that helps solve this problem. The sensors in the machine save you from human error - it won’t allow you to mix the glass colours. 

It washes, grinds and separately stores each colour glass. The materials are then collected from your home by the company and delivered to manufacturers where 100% of the glass can be closed-loop recycled. So join us and check out the ReCircle crowdfunding page. 

Help us build an appliance that transforms the way we reuse our materials and recycle in our homes.