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Wish-cycling sends needed glass to the landfill

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Written by: Justin Schwartz
Glass cullet
Glass cullet

Only a third of the 11 million tons discarded glass in the U.S. is recycled. If clean, most of it could be crushed into cullet particles, blended with sand, soda ash, and limestone, then melted to be reformed new glass containers. Instead, much of it is crushed and used as day cover at landfills.

In Europe, the glass recycling rate is as high as 90%.[1]

U.S. glass makers are limited by the supply of clean, furnace-ready cullet particles. That may be caused by recycled glass being contaminated with food, paper, cigarette butts, or other items. Light bulbs, plates with food scraps, and other “wish-cycled” items can soil otherwise clean glass. When that happens, only 40% of the glass can be ground into clean cullet.[2]

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[1] ACS.org — Chemical and Engineering News
[2] GPI.org — Glass Packaging Institute

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