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Re: [greenyes] The environmental impacts of recycling glass
Thanks for this useful link, Roger. Below is the abstract of the paper from the NTIS site, with what I see as the most salient facts highlighted. I suspect that since 1991 the glass container manufacturing industry has consolidated still further, making distances to plants even longer.

This report addresses the question of whether glass-container recycling actually saves energy. Glass-container production in 1991 was 10(sup 7) tons, with cullet making up about 30% of the input to manufacture. Two-thirds of the cullet is postconsumer waste; the remainder is in-house scrap (rejects). Most of the glass recycled is made into new containers. Total primary energy consumption includes direct process-energy use by the industry (adjusted to account for the efficiency of fuel production) plus fuel and raw-material transportation and production energies; the grand total for 1991 is estimated to be about 168 (times) 10(sup 12) Btu. The total primary energy use decreases as the percent of glass recycled rises, but the maximum energy saved is only about 13%. If distance to the landfill is kept fixed and that to the recovery facility multiplied by about eight, to 100 mi, a break-even point is reached, and recycling saves no energy. Previous work has shown that to save energy when using glass bottles, reuse is the clear choice. Recycling of glass does not save much energy or valuable raw material and does not reduce air or water pollution significantly. The most important impacts are the small reduction of waste sent to the landfill and increased production rates at glass plants.

At 08:20 AM 04/15/2003 -0700, Roger Guttentag wrote:
NTIS Web page for this report. Note it can be purchased as a file download:

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