Community Recycling

Glass containers are part of most community curbside and drop-off recycling programs. Providing a mechanism that allows residents to recycle glass bottles and jars is the first step in the glass recycling process.

Recycling in your Community

Glass bottles and jars are an integral part of any community recycling program. They’re 100% recyclable and can be recycled endlessly without any loss in purity or quality. Recycling glass containers saves energy, conserves resources, and diverts this valuable resource from landfills. Plus, consumers expect their glass to be included in their local recycling program.

A July 2016 comprehensive survey conducted by the Sustainable Packaging Coalition of nearly 2,000 community recycling programs, placed access to glass beverage container recycling at 81% nationwide. This is 20 percentage points above the 60% Federal Trade Commission threshold for general recyclability claims and labeling, issued through the agency's Green Guides.

Glass Recycling Basics

Follow these simple steps when recycling glass bottles and jars. Keep out the non-container glass and other contaminants to ensure the glass you recycle is able to be used to make new glass bottles.

  • Recycle Glass Containers Only
  • Keep It Clean:
    • Common Contaminants
      • Ceramic cups, plates and pottery
      • Clay garden pots
      • Laboratory glass
      • Crystal and opaque drinking glasses
      • Mirrors, Windshields and window glasses
      • Heat-resistant ovenware (for example, Pyrex or Visionware)
      • Light bulbs
    • Other Contaminants:
      • Ceramic and wire caps for beer bottles
      • Lead collars from wine and champagne bottles
      • Stones and dirt 
      • Drinking glasses
      • Hazardous materials, batteries
  • Enjoy Products in New Glass Bottles and Jars

Curbside Recycling and Drop-Off Centers

Most glass bottles and jars recycled in the community are collected through curbside or drop-off recycling programs.

Mandatory Beverage Container Deposits

In 10 states, glass bottles are collected through a mandatory beverage container deposit program. Residents pay a deposit on glass bottles and other containers and then return them to a collection center for redemption. According to the Container Recycling Institute, states with bottle bills have an average glass container recycling rate of just over 63%.

Laws and deposit amounts differ from state to state, but all tend to:

Improve the quality of glass collected for recycling.
Increase the percentage of containers going to bottle-to-bottle recycling.
Exclude some glass containers (like wine and liquor bottles).

Fast Recycling Facts

  • Ceramics, porcelain, Pyrex, and dishware are the most destructive contaminants for glass recycling. Make sure they don’t get mixed in with your recycled glass bottles.
  • 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.
  • Recycling just one glass bottle saves enough energy to light a 100-watt light bulb for four hours, power a computer for 30 minutes, or a television for 20 minutes.

GPI's 50% Recycled Content Goal - Efforts, Challenges, and Opportunities Ahead for the Glass Container Industry