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[greenyes] more thoughts on glass
Dear All,
  Some other thoughts in defense of glass containers (& by extension, finding 
better ways to keep glass in recycling programs):

1.  Someone in this discussion said sand is unlimited resource, hence what's 
the point of recycling glass.  Actually, very precise types of sand are used 
for glass-making.  I don't have the science or references I can cite, simply 
recall when visiting the last extant "sandwich" glass mfgr on Cape Cod that 
had been making decorative glass, plates, bowls, etc, for several centuries, 
that company history said they started in a NJ location where sand was 
plentiful, then had to move to New England to get right kind of sand.  Heard 
the same (specific type of sand required) when touring Owens-Illinois glass 
plant years ago (before it was conglomerated with whoever owns Owens now).

2.  In cases where the right type of sand is available, there are significant 
other environmental impacts from sand mining.  For instance, here in San 
Diego the San Luis Rey River watershed, riparian (river) habitat, and living 
critturs in this ecosystem are severely degraded/threatened as a result of 
sand mining causing silting up of the river.  This is an important 
consideration anywhere that water is a scarce commodity.

3.  How is it that not recycling an item back into the very same thing it was 
before (AKA "closed-loop" recycling) is NOT recycling?  Say your glass bottle 
makes it to the recycling plant & is made into another glass bottle.  Absent 
a redemption/washing/refillable scenario, the odds of that same bottle making 
the loop another time to again be a bottle are quite low, given all the 
breakage problems already mentioned.  Thus, the recycled glass bottle stays 
out of the "waste" stream only a short while, then still ends up as 
landfilled residue.
    In contrast, glass aggregate, or decorative landscaping with glass 
gravel, or the like, takes the glass into a new, longterm use.  It's out of 
the "waste" stream a long time, possibly indefinitely.  The economics may not 
be there depending on local markets for aggregate or whatever, but longterm 
reuse/diversion, tho not "closed-loop", deserves better evaluation from a 
wider perspective.

4.  It is misguided to blame glass container manufacturers for the loss first 
of the refillables/washing/redemption systems, and now for the rapidly 
shrinking number of products you can buy in "disposable" glass containers.  
Glass mfgrs have been slammed by aluminum can, then plastic bottle 
    Reynolds introduced the 1st aluminum beverage can in 1977 WITH a 
redemption (buy-back) program.  This was to counter expected resistance of 
consumers accustomed to deposit, refillable glass btls.  Consumers bought the 
cans, other aluminum companies jumped in, and there went a big chunk of glass 
companies' market share.
    Plastic bottles came next, once consumers had been conditioned to be more 
accepting of disposables (thru advertising, planned obsolescence, pushing of 
convenience, instant gratification, etc).  Again, consumers bought the 
competing container and glass took a big hit.  In the early 80's glass mfgrs 
began to hedge their bets by offering plastic bottles as well as glass.  They 
had to stay in the beverage container market somehow.

5.  Consumer product brand-name holders (Coke, Pepsi, Seven-Up, etc) are the 
ones who call the shots on which packages will hold their products.  If 
consumers don't squawk, if they buy Al or plastic, then glass mfgrs can 
hardly turn the tide.  In the 80's glass companies DID do costly R&D & opened 
beneficiation plants (to remove metal lids, ceramics, labels, etc, even color 
sort [I think]), & they aggressively competed for glass to be recycled, 
offering good prices, shipping subsidies, etc.  But by then, the consumer 
momentum against them was too great.
    That they cannot again invest hugely in developing glass recycling 
solutions (to solve our recycling collection problems) is because glass 
container market share is now so small it's not enough to support aggressive 
outreach for getting glass back.  Look hard in the grocery store & see how 
few are the products you can buy in glass.

6.  The other major factor against glass mfgrs is the nature of our 
shipping/distribution system.  Local and regional beverage production & 
container filling operations of old (which worked fine with refillable 
deposit glass btls) have been displaced by national, long distance systems.  
Not so when product is shipped from one coast to the other, or further.
    Indeed, with globalization, we can now have a Coke or Pepsi anywhere on 
the planet.  (Like I've been wondering if our troops are leaving a trail of 
Al cans & plastic bottles littering Iraq; is someone there recycling these 
U.S. or European products?)

    I could go why is it we feel money spent for recycling is a 
subsidy while money spent for wasting is a necessary service fee?  Maybe it's 
time we turned some of these ideas on their heads.  Rearrange the "waste" 
management budgets.  Rethink whether it makes sense if each household 
originally had 1 90 gal. cart for garbage, that when recycling collection is 
added they must now have 2 90 gal. carts.  It's the same amount of discards, 
just set out a different way.

    Heard this yesterday:  "The lesson that history teaches is that people 
don't learn the lessons of history."

Gretchen Brewer
Earth Circle
San Diego           

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