Dear Recyclebank: Are household drinking glasses recyclable? –Monika L.
Dear Monika: Your drinking glasses may or may not be compatible for recycling with your other glass, so you might have to get creative with your repurposing.
The glass you commonly see collected is what’s known as container glass or soda-lime glass. This is what you find in juice bottles, pasta-sauce jars, and other food and beverage packaging. While the glasses you use for your beverages may technically be made from container glass, they often have inclusions such as borosilicate to make them more temperature-resistant. (No one wants a cup to shatter if it goes straight from sitting in a warm dishwasher to holding an ice-cold drink.) Glasses may also be coated, or be decorated with logos or designs that turn them into mixed-material items.
Why are additives a problem in glass recycling? Additives mean that different types of glass have different melting points. Your recycling facility expects a certain kind of glass, and operates accordingly. An oddball in a pile of container glass could affect not only the processing of the batch, but also the quality and durability of the finished recycled product.
You can try contacting the manufacturer (if you know who they are) to learn the contents of your drinking glasses. However, because of the potential for problems, many curbside recycling programs will state up front that they don’t accept drinking glasses or other glass kitchenware. Always defer to your hauler’s wishes on this front.
The easiest way to deal with unwanted drinking glasses is to donate them or pass them along to family or friends who need them, provided they’re in good shape. You can also try your hand at crafts; maybe you can rework a glass into a candleholder or a vase? Check out some of these ideas for wine glasses, or find inspiration on Pinterest.
With glass being so easily and endlessly recyclable, it’s only natural that you’d want to get it into the recycling stream. Up to 80 percent of recovered glass is estimated to make it into the furnace for recycling. Taking precautions helps to keep that number high.
SOURCES: Glass Packaging Institute