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What Happens to Glass Bottles When They’re Recycled

Paper is the most recycled material in America, but plastic and glass bottles are second. Recycling them saves natural resources from being harvested and reduces pollution.

But what actually happens to glass bottles when they’re recycled? We asked an expert: Chance Shelley, Communications and Community Outreach Coordinator at Marin Sanitary Service.

What Marin Sanitary Accepts Curbside for Recycling

Besides glass in Marin you can recycle plastic, cardboard, aluminum cans, tin cans, rigid plastics, paper, and magazines.

Chance says, “At Marin Sanitary, we accept any rigid plastics that hold their own shape and have numbers 1 through 7 on them. We do not take Styrofoam or biodegradable plastics. In addition, we will take any type of glass bottles or jars, but not heat-resistant material like Pyrex and tempered glass.”

What Happens to Your Plastic Once Marin Sanitary Takes it?

“Once we pick up your recycling, the plastic is hand-sorted by the plastic material type. We then compact them into one-ton bales, which are moved by a forklift to a tractor-trailer. They’re then sent to the Port of Oakland and on a ship to Vietnam, Indonesia and other countries that need them via supply and demand, says Chance.”

“When they arrive overseas, the plastic is re-sorted, then melted down to make a wide range of materials, including benches, carpeting, patio furniture, polyester fleece, recycling bins, roadside curbs, truck cargo liners and upholstery.”

What Happens to Your Glass Bottles Once Marin Sanitary Takes it?

It’s a bit different than plastic recycling and stays a bit closer to home. “When we recycle glass bottles, Marin Sanitary sorts it, then it’s taken to a glass treatment plant here in California,” Chance told us. “There, it’s washed to remove any impurities, crushed, and melted into new products.”

Those new products can be more than new glass jars and bottles. They could be made into glass bricks, countertops, flooring, glass sand to purify water, landscaping stones, new glass bottles and glass tiles.

Clear Reasons to Recycle Glass Bottles

The good news is that glass is 100% recyclable and can be recycled time and again without any loss in its purity or its quality. That’s something that few food and beverage packaging options can claim. The better news is that one ton of natural resources can be saves by recycling one ton of glass and recycled glass can be substituted for up to 95% of raw materials.

Finally, the container and fiberglass industries collectively purchase 3 million tons of recycled glass annually. That recycled glass is then remelted and repurposed for use in the production of new containers and fiberglass products.

We hope that this article about what happens to glass when its recycled has been of interest to you. We thought it’s a very interesting story and is worth sharing.

Want to Learn More About Recycling in Marin?

Marin Sanitary offers a free recycling Move-In guide that you can download here, plus they offer free public tours. You can call 415-456-2601 for more information.