RE: Energy Savings from Recycling Glass

John Reindl (
Wed, 10 Feb 1999 08:28:19 -0600

Re the energy savings issue of glass, the report by Argonne National
Labs said that the cullet can be transported up to 1,750 miles to
the glass container plant before the transportation energy used
exceeds the energy savings of the glass container recycling
process. This in spite of their other conclusion that the energy
savings for glass container recycling is relatively minor.

Re the electricity issue, the question is whether the energy is
measured at the point of end use or the amount of fossil fuel that it
took to make the energy. A kilowatt hour of electricity at my home
or factor has about 3,400 BTUs. But, due to losses in converting
coal or oil to electricity and losses along the power line, it takes
about 10,000 BTUs to make that kilowatt hour.

So, if someone reports that x kilowatt hours are saved, the question
arises if the amount of BTUs saved should be x times 3400 or x times

John Reindl

> It's great to have some hard numbers on this (although I confess Craig's
> information about electric vs fossil energy went over my head).
> OK, let me get this straight:
> Recycling saves 260 kwh/ton (in the furnace)
> Recycling costs 20 kwh/ton (from the curb thru the MRF)
> Recycling costs 1 kwh/ton per mile (from the MRF to the furnace)
> This means, if you shipped further than 240 miles, the energy savings would
> be wiped out. Doesn't it?
> There are 64 glass plants in the USA (down from 76 in 1992) -- located in
> 25 states. There were, last time I looked (1992), only 5 glass plants in
> all of Canada. THe way I see it, this puts lots of communities more than
> 240 miles from the nearest plant.
> Helen Spiegelman
> 3570 West 22nd Avenue
> Vancouver, British Columbia
> 604/731-8464
> 604/731-8463 (fax)
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