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  • Pratham Kulshrestha

Pick Up The Pieces!

Have you ever wondered if glass could be recycled? I always used to wonder about what might happen to a broken glass when I was a kid. To my surprise, glass is 100% recyclable and is one of the few substances that can be endlessly recycled, with no loss of quality. As bad as plastic is for marine life, glass is incredibly harmful too. Glass waste needs to get some attention from environmentalists!

We can reduce non-renewable fossil fuel usage by simply recycling our glass and thus reducing carbon emissions caused by carbonate raw materials like limestone. Broken glass pieces called cullet can be melted down to form the glass fibre. There are two types of cullet; internal and external cullet. Internal cullet consists of defective products identified and rejected by a quality controlled process during the glass manufacturer’s industrial process. Whereas external cullet is the waste glass that has been collected or reprocessed with the purpose of recycling. But the biggest challenge with recycling is that the glass needs to be purified and cleaned of contamination. In India specifically, we need to create public glass waste collection points, to support the recycling process. The other challenge is that glass retains colour due to which glass waste collection points must have segregation by colour.

Finally, heat-resistant glass such as Pyrex or borosilicate glass must not be a part of the glass recycling stream. Even a small piece of such material will alter the fluid’s viscosity in the furnace while remelting. In India, only about 45% of glass waste is being recycled annually, while European countries recycle about 90% of their glass waste.

The world governments need to incentivize and educate the public about glass disposal and also, provide machines/containers near supermarkets or convenient residential locations for proper and judicious utilization.

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