It’s been a long process -nearly two years in the running!- but the first functional draft of this recycling system is just about ready to spring into being.
Commercial glass, such as windows, skylights, windshields, showers, the sealed units that appear in store-fronts and curtainwall, and most other glass that serves a commercial purpose, is considerably more difficult to recycle than bottle glass because of the variety of complex treatments involved in the making and processing of it, where-as bottle glass is simply coloured and rolled off the assembly line.
The +16hrs I spent researching this specific question have told me that pretty much the only reason why we don’t currently have a system (apparently we had one in Ontario that recycled household glass products but that program was cut because of the expense and the company that operated it disappeared without a trace) is that no one has had the time to sit down and design one.
Considering that the energy saved from recycling two glass bottles is enough to boil water for five cups of tea (Eco Friendly Kids: Energy & Recycling Quiz) and that, here in Vancouver, out of the 101 glass companies listed on Yellowpages, the average one throws out approximately 50,000lbs of glass every year, I’d say the benefits of having a recycling system are pretty clear.
Glass is very versatile and can be recycled infinitely. As you’ll see in the list of documents I’ve included below, there are at least 27 different uses for recycled glass*. Not only would we be stopping 250+ tonnes from winding up in landfills annually but, if recycling commercial glass turns out to be as efficient as bottle glass, we’d saving over 52,000 tonnes of raw materials from having to be turned into the stuff. And that’s just in Vancouver. Imagine what those figures would look like if they were extrapolated to include the entire country. The entire world.
Currently, I’m looking into the properties of the various compounds we’d be handling and whether or not any of them pose any threat to the environment or the safety of potential workers. I hope to get this project up on its feet soon though.