Benefits of Glass Packaging
Glass is the trusted and proven packaging for health, taste and the environment. It is also the only widely-used food packaging granted the FDA status of “GRAS” or generally recognized as safe – the highest standard.
- Glass is 100% recyclable and can be recycled endlessly without loss in quality or purity.
- Legislation such as container deposit measures will further enhance the benefits associated with glass packaging.
- 80% of the glass that is recovered is made into new glass products.
- A glass container can go from a recycling bin to a store shelf in as little as 30 days. An estimated 80% of recovered glass containers are made into new glass bottles.
- Glass is nonporous and impermeable, so there are no interactions between glass packaging and products to affect the flavor of food and beverages. No nasty after taste - ever.
- Glass has an almost zero rate of chemical interactions, ensuring that the products inside a glass bottle keep their strength, aroma, and flavor.
- When consumers choose foods or beverages that are packaged in glass, they avoid potential risks while enjoying a number of benefits.
Frequently Asked Questions
Glass container companies represent a $5.5 billion dollar industry, and employ about 18,000 skilled workers in 49 glass manufacturing plants in 22 states. There are over 80 recycled glass processors in 35 states. On average, a typical glass processing facility can handle 20 tons of color-sorted glass per hour.
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Glass is made from readily-available domestic materials, such as sand, soda ash, limestone and “cullet,” the industry term for furnace-ready scrap glass. The only material used in greater volumes than cullet is sand. These materials are mixed, or “batched,” heated to a temperature of 2600 to 2800 degrees Fahrenheit and molded into the desired shape.
Recycled glass is substituted for up to 70% of raw materials. Manufacturers benefit from recycling in several ways—it reduces emissions and consumption of raw materials, extends the life of plant equipment, such as furnaces, and saves energy.
Because glass manufacturers require high-quality recycled container glass to meet market demands for new glass containers. Cullet is always part of the recipe for glass, and the more that is used, the greater the decrease in energy used in the furnace. This makes using cullet profitable in the long run, lowering costs for glass container manufacturers—and benefiting the environment.
Glass containers, such as those for food and beverages, can be recycled. Other types of glass, like windows, ovenware, Pyrex, crystal, etc. are manufactured through a different process. If these materials are introduced into the manufacturing process, they can cause production problems and defective containers. Furnace-ready cullet must also be free of contaminants such as metals, ceramics, gravel, stones, etc. Color sorting makes a difference, too. Glass manufacturers are limited in the amount of mixed cullet they can use to manufacture new containers. Separating recycled container glass by color allows the industry to ensure that new bottles match the color standards required by glass container customers.
Cullet that doesn’t meet container manufacturing standards and non-container glass are used in tile, filtration, sand blasting, concrete pavements and parking lots, decorative items, and landscaping.
Ideally, any recycling program that results in color separated, contaminant-free recycled glass helps ensure that these materials are recycled into new glass containers. While curbside collection of glass recyclables can generate high participation and large amounts of recyclables, drop-off and commercial collection programs often yield higher-quality container glass.