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Finding Solutions Part 1 - Creating a Circular Economy with Glass Recycling

People often ask, “Why should we recycle glass, isn’t it just made of sand?” Yes, it's made from sand, but the eco-friendly choice is to keep it in circulation. Investing in research and development for glass recycling, we can find a solution to the plastic epidemic.

Why It's Important to Recycle Glass
Glass generates less environmental pollution to both make and recycle compared to plastic. It’s the greener choice for consumers. It's also a better choice for companies with zero waste initiatives and increased accountability in the marketplace. This is why it's so important to have glass collection and recycling programs.
In the past, glass was returnable to the companies that produced it. As brand uniqueness became more prized, this practice fell out of favor. Consumer glass recycling is only at about 26.6% now in the US, according to the EPA. Yet we often still put our glass in with other recyclables, even if it is going to end up in the landfill.

Energy Efficiency
It is more energy-efficient to make products with culles (small pieces of furnace-ready glass) than to start with raw sand, soda ash and limestone. For example, imagine that a glass bottle is like a cookie - to process it into cutlets, that’s like making cookie crumbs. You can use crumbs for ice cream toppings, rather than baking cookies from scratch.

Saving Landfill Space
According to Chula Vista Clean & Green, every day in the US we throw out enough glass to fill a skyscraper. One ton of glass requires 2 cubic yards of landfill space, and the amount of space needed to contain our waste in the US is already vast. In fact, smaller countries are busy finding solutions because they don't have places to store waste. Just because we have plenty of land in the US doesn't mean we should turn it into one big landfill! Landfills destroy irreplaceable habitat and create toxicity for our people and water. Needing more landfill space to store glass is contributing to this problem. Landfills are also considered a social justice issue because communities with financial resources to fight their presence, often will. Adding new landfills destroys ecosystems, so it’s better to save space in the ones we have. It’s better for the environment to give the discarded glass new life in the form of bottles or fiberglass insulation.
 

saving landfill space

Emissions
CO2 emissions are a huge problem contributing to climate change. Years ago, scientists predicted what they called “global warming”. We now have a climate change crisis that has impacted a variety of weather phenomena. We’ve made some improvements but other things have gone backward. CO2 emissions were and are impossible to ignore in countries without regulations. Now we have an ecological crisis that no one can ignore. Glass production has a measurable amount of CO2 generated. When you manufacture a ton of glass, it creates about 2,400 lbs of CO2. In contrast, for every 1 ton of glass that is recycled, it saves 760 lbs of CO2 emissions from the air. This means that for every ton of glass we recycle, we save this amount of CO2 from entering the atmosphere. The End of Waste Foundation platform uses indelible blockchain transactions to track exact amounts of recycled glass. The reason we created our Save the Glass campaign is that we can recycle glass an unlimited number of times. We know there’s a need to improve glass recycling as it currently is and eventually create a truly circular economy. We have identified a need to bring the participants in the glass recycling circle together.

The Current Problems with Glass Recycling
One of the biggest problems with glass recycling today is dishonesty in tracking glass. Right now, there is no way to assure the accurate recording of glass quantities. Companies can say whatever they want without any proof of how many tons are recycled. Many municipalities are dumping their glass collections programs altogether due to logistics and safety. Independent companies are stepping in to help, but it’s happening faster than they are moving in. Blockchain technology can solve the problem of honesty in glass tracking, but we still need to put it in place. Right now, communities across America are looking for solutions to deal with glass waste. Municipalities are trying out pay-as-you-throw recycling programs to combat high taxes and contamination. Currently, more responsibility and organization is needed across the board.

The Beauty of Teamwork to Improve
Glass Recycling We can see that the players in the recycling game already exist but need our support. We need to link them together. End of Waste Foundation's platform provides the necessary tracking to ensure accurate on glass quantities as it changes hands. This is the support municipalities and independent companies need so they can focus on collection and processing. The players in the supply chain & waste stream are like teams that work together better when there is a coach. The End of Waste Foundation tracks recycled glass quantities it goes through its lifecycle. Tracking glass this way puts a concrete figure on something that can seem quite abstract - saving CO2 emissions. By tracking and measuring the amount of CO2 emissions savings, we can pass on the offset as a commodity. By covering the cost of recycling glass, businesses or consumers can offset their carbon emissions.
The circular economy emerges when we combine cooperation and eco-friendly materials, such as glass.

supplay chain - players

 

waste&recycling

 

A Circular Economy With Glass Recycling
Circular Economy is an economic system aimed at minimizing waste and making the most of its resources.” - End of Waste Foundation
We know a circular economy is possible because the components of one already exist. Individuals, businesses and governments can be aligned to form a system. We already know that recycling glass is a vital component of this system.
Right now, to encourage glass recycling, we need to cover the losses at $35 per ton. These funds can come through the Distributed-Shared Responsibility model. With partnerships in place, the logistics form a circular economy. The End of Waste Foundation is ready to Save the Glass, are you?