What is commercial glass disposal?

Does your business produce glass waste, find out more about glass recycling and the disposal process

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Bottles and jars – what do these two items have in common? They can both be made from glass. And once they’ve been used – such as for storing liquids or other items – they need to be disposed of correctly.

Whether you own a bar, a restaurant, or are just curious about this aspect of business operations, read on to learn all about the commercial glass disposal process.

In this article, we’ll cover:

  1. Glass recycling: What do you need to know?
  2. What type of businesses might need commercial glass recycling?
  3. What is the glass recycling process?
  4. How does commercial glass disposal work?
  5. What are the benefits of commercial glass recycling?
  6. How to recycle glass

1. Glass recycling: What do you need to know?

Glass itself is made from a mixture of ash, limestone and sand, as well as additives to give it colour. At a very high temperature, it’s blown into the glass objects we know, like bottles, drinking glasses and jars.

In addition to these items, window panes and windscreens are other types of glass that can usually be recycled.

Some examples of glass that can’t be recycled include ovenware and light bulbs.

Note that not all glass items can be recycled – light bulbs, example. Often, this is because they don’t all melt at the same level of heat – some may require higher/lower temperatures, and others (like ovenware) may not be able to melt at all. Also, some types of glass may have been treated with chemicals.

Similarly, different colours of glass can be recycled, but should be done so separately to make more of the same colour of glass. This is due to the different minerals used to create individual colours.

What is plate glass?

This terms refers to the thick sheets of glass that are used for large windows or doors, like those found in shops and other commercial buildings.

2. What types of businesses might need commercial glass recycling?

Glass recycling is suitable for bars, clubs, pubs and restaurants. It may also apply to building or construction companies, as well as party planning and events businesses. Other examples include window cleaners and businesses operating in the car industry.

It’s also appropriate for businesses that are environmentally conscious, as well as those that are looking to reduce their waste disposal costs (as recycling is usually at a lower price point than sending waste to landfill or other disposal methods).

Glass is 100% recyclable, and can be reprocessed without changing its quality. It’s important that it goes through the correct processes, though, such as separating and treating it.

3. What is the glass recycling process?

When glass is disposed of, it goes through a number of processes. Some possible steps include:

  1. Glass items are separated from other commercial waste into the appropriate recycling bin
  2. The bins are collected and the waste is taken to a treatment facility
  3. The glass is sorted into different colours in a machine
  4. Items are washed and crushed
  5. Any leftover debris is removed
  6. The glass may be mixed with raw materials at this stage
  7. The glass is put into a furnace to be melted and blown into new glass or alternative materials
  8. The process begins again

Note that broken glass may have to go through a different procedure.

Once the waste items have gone through the treatment process, this material is known as glass cullet.

4. How does commercial glass disposal work?

Glass waste can be collected on different frequencies, such as daily, weekly or other timeframes, depending on the amount your business produces.

The waste can be stored for recycling in containers that are specifically designed for glass, such as bags, bins, crates and sacks. It may be preferable to use bins (glass is often stored in 240 litre collection bins), although bags and sacks are available as alternative options.

Bins are used to collect commercial glass waste, although larger glass items – sheets of glass from a construction site, for example – are likely to require specialist transport to get to the waste processing site.

Glass waste can be collected from your business, or you could bring it to a disposal site.

Note that for the latter, you’ll need to register as a waste carrier – read more on our ‘what is commercial waste’ page.

If you use a commercial waste collection company, the company will begin the process by selecting the right type of container for your business, and then the collection schedule.

Your business’ needs can also be assessed by a waste management company – check out our guide to the best waste management companies for more information.

What to look for in a commercial glass disposal company

  • Processes – how is the glass disposed of?
  • Safety – do the storage containers provided appropriately protect staff when disposing the glass?
  • Standards – what environmental standards or other requirements does the company work to?

5. What are the benefits of commercial glass recycling?

Commercial glass recycling helps reduce CO2 emissions and energy requirements (as new glass can be made from recycled glass), as well as lessening demands on raw material and landfill.

There may be a lower cost for recycling separate glass types. Plus, as glass tends to weigh a lot – and as commercial waste is often charged by weight – it can be more cost-effective to recycle. You can read more about costs on our waste disposal prices page.

Landfill tax is charged at two different rates, and may apply to the waste to dispose. Find out more on the Gov.uk site here.

Another benefit of glass recycling is potentially helping to improve your company’s image, particularly if you’re looking to target ethical consumers.

Some glass can’t be re-melted, which may be because it already has high amounts of other material in it. However, it can be used as aggregate materials, such as in construction or road work.

According to BritGlass, for every tonne of glass that is re-melted, 246 kilograms of carbon dioxide emissions are saved from entering the atmosphere.

BritGlass is the representative body of the glass sector in the UK.

6. How to recycle glass

When recycling glass, it’s important to ensure that glass is cleaned, separated, and not contaminated.

However, glass can be mixed colours when it’s collected from your business’ premises, so it doesn’t always have to be separated – this can happen at the treatment facility or waste plant too.

Glass in landfill doesn’t break down. Also, it can go into your general commercial waste collections and it can be treated, but the quality of the glass may be altered.

What is the circular economy?

Glass is an example of a material that can go through the circular economy process easily and efficiently. The circular economy promotes using materials to their maximum capacity, and then recycling them.

What are the next steps?

At this stage, you’ve learned more about what glass waste is, as well as how it can be disposed of safely and effectively. We’ve also highlighted which types of businesses might be most in need of commercial glass disposal.

Going forward, you can read our guide to the best waste management companies, and also get an idea of waste disposal prices.

Written by:
Scarlett writes for the energy and HR sections of the site, as well as managing the Just Started profiles. Scarlett is passionate about championing equality and sustainability in business.
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