5 Lessons to Learn About Recycling Glass from Other Countries

For Recycle Glass Month, I decided to find what we Americans could learn from the best practices in glass recycling from our friendly neighbors overseas. While we’re making  strides, we can learn a lesson or two through these 5 examples:

  1. In Denmark 98% of glass bottles are refillable and 98% of those are returned by consumers. Set a community, city, state or national goal and then boast the good numbers.
  2. Glass collection points, known as Bottle Banks are very common near shopping centres, at civic amenity sites and in local neighborhoods in the United Kingdom. They opened the first one 34 years ago in 1977 and now more than 50,000 Bottle Banks are around the country. Make glass recycling convenient by putting in collection points in more places instead of only relying on curbside programs alone.

    Recycling Bins in the United Kingdom
  3. In Switzerland, bottle banks at every supermarket, with separate slots for clear, green and brown glass. But the Swiss take it further, there is a strong financial incentive. Recycling is free, but in most parts of Switzerland throwing away trash costs money – each trash bag has to have a sticker on it, and each sticker costs at
    least 1 euro (60 pence). So the less you throw out, the less you pay and hence the incentive to recycle. You’ll like this: No sticker? Then the trash will be left outside your house to rot. And how well does it work? Take a look at plastic PET bottles which are the most common drinks containers in Switzerland, and 80% of them are recycled – far higher than the European average of 20 to 40%. Include financial incentives that reward people for recycling and reducing waste going into our landfills. Or financial disincentives for those that trash materials that could be easily recycled.
  4. Germans, already known for their organization and dedication to the  environment, boast that around 90% of Germans are willing to sort out their rubbish and do so. Germany offers color-coded recycle bins for paper, glass, plastic, metals, bio (food waste), packaging and then a black box for materials that cannot be recycled. Good design matters. Use colors and/or shapes to help consumers more easily sort their recycled materials. If people are willing to sort their trash, make it easy for them to do so.
  5. Spain targets companies that use glass in their products. Spanish law demands that food and drink companies must pay for the cost of recycling the glass that their products are sold in. This gives a thriving market for private companies to specialize in glass collection, sorting and re-processing. While there are lots of ways to boost consumers to be more environmentally-responsible. Consider financial incentives for companies to source, reclaim and recycle the content they use in packaging their products.

What else you think we could do to boost glass recycling in the U.S.?

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Kathleen Plate, Sustainable Lighting Artist and Recycled Glass Artist

There is an indescribable beauty to the interaction of glass and light. Here in our Bluffton studios, we have glass installations that change the play of light into the studio depending on the time of day and also the time of year. For Recycle Glass Month, we’d like to share the beauty of recycled glass through Kathleen Plate’s recently revealed Smart Glass Guggenheim Chandelier.

Smart Glass Guggenheim Chandelier
Smart Glass Guggenheim Chandelier by Kathleen Plate

“The spiral lighting fixture, inspired by the architecture of the Guggenheim Museum, features a white globe light and glass rings. The chandelier made its national debut at the Guggenheim Museum in New York during the Architectural Digest Home Show and now moves to its current home at Switch Modern in Atlanta.”

Kathleen’s beautiful pieces are made from recycled glass from soda, wine, beer and even salad dressing bottles.  It’s another clear example that glass – with its three simple and natural ingredients – can be endlessly and beautifully recycled. In addition to the Smart Glass Guggenheim Chandelier and Kathleen’s other works of art for the home, she is the founder and designer of Smart Glass Jewelry with this beautiful work showing up on fashion-forward runways and the small screen.

You can bring more of the beauty of recycled glass into your world, whether you make the smart, healthy choice for a reusable glass water bottle or make your next jewelry piece a declaration of sustainable luxury – you can discover the beauty, simplicity and endless
potential of glass.

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September is Recycle Glass Month

September Glass Recycle MonthIn only 2 days, we’ll be kicking off a whole month centered around glass recycling. Started and coordinated by the Glass Packaging Institute, Recycle Glass Month will be in its fourth year with events around the country that bring together glass suppliers, manufacturers, recyclers and you.

Well we’re getting involved in our own way.

  1.  Each weekly blog in September will focus on the how, what and why, along with the the benefits of recycled glass.
  2. We’re announcing a Glass Challenge on Facebook and Twitter on September 1. We’re going to challenge you to recycle more glass in your neighborhood or community and every single creative idea will be rewarded.
  3. Our glass bottles are made from a minimum of 75% post-consumer recycled glass so we’re going to run the numbers and share how much energy, material, and resource we’ve saved together.

So, won’t you join us in September for Recycle Glass Month?

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Our Future: A Day of Glass

You know how glass feels to the touch? Think of your smart phone or your favorite wine glass – your hands tend to linger to the touch. You don’t get that tactile sensation with plastics. And since the 1970s, the push for plastic has seemed never-ending. As we learn more and more about the health dangers and environmental impact of plastic, we’re going back to the basic beauty, safety and elegance of glass. We came across this terrific video from the good folks at Corning. It centers on how glass can be used in our everyday lives in unique and innovative ways. While we’re focused on providing you with the best glass water bottle you’ll ever use, we applaud any way that we can bring the benefits of glass back into our lives.

Are you inspired? What can you imagine in a future focused on glass?

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Infographic: Consumers Agree Glass is Better

In April of this year, Omnibus conducted a survey of 1,000 consumers here in the U.S. The survey was an effort to better understand how we think of glass relating to the safety and quality of our food and beverages. Recently on this blog, we’ve shared a lot about the health and environmental dangers of plastic. So when we ran across this terrific infographic summary of the Omnibus survey, well we just had to share.

Safety and Quality of Glass for Food and Beverage
Infographic Courtesy of OI

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