NATIONAL REPORT—Glass is 100 percent recyclable and can be recycled endlessly without loss in quality or purity. Glass recycling rates vary around the country because of container deposit legislation or how it is collected and recycled. As part of single-stream recycling, glass often breaks, tainting the end product. The contaminated recyclables then end up in the dump. In fact, glass represents roughly 40 percent of landfilled recyclables.
Hoteliers can play a part in helping to keep glass out of the landfill by working with their waste collectors and also by purchasing products that utilize recycled glass. Recycled glass has many uses and is preferable, environmentally, to virgin glass. It can be used to make new bottles, fiberglass, tile and flooring, bricks, and can be ground up and added to other aggregate materials to surface parking lots. Recycled glass is used to make “glassphalt,” a material that is applied to roads, highways and even airport runways to make these surfaces less slippery and less prone to cracking. Reflective paint used on highways is made from glass beads formed from recycled glass.
The variety of garden and landscape products made from recycled glass has led to the term “greenscaping.” Unlike wood, glass mulch doesn’t absorb moisture, which improves water delivery while reducing the frequency of watering. It also comes in a wide variety of colors.
Many Surface Applications
In the hospitality industry recycled glass can often produce spectacular design results and earn LEED points at the same time. Oceanside Glasstile, for example, creates art tile using recycled glass. A chart on their website shows the total recycled content in the many colors offered. The art tile has many surface applications. Oceanside Glasstile recycles over two million pounds of post-consumer bottle glass each year in its manufacturing.
ThinkGlass Inc. countertops are 100 percent recyclable and produced in a highly sustainable manner. All waste and scrap glass are recycled. ThinkGlass installed a water recycling system for its two machine tools (CNC). Water is used in the polishing and cutting of glass. This filtering system will help save 250 gallons a minute or just over one Olympic swimming pool every month.
Refresh Glass, LLC makes glassware from wine bottles. Also available are planters, carafes, votive holders and vases. According to the company’s website, it has “rescued” more than one million wine bottles from the waste stream. Items come in a wide variety of different product designs, sizes, and colors. Refresh Glass has glasses being used at Wolfgang Puck, Four Seasons, Ritz Carlton locations, and at many other restaurants and hotels around the country.
Crushed Glass Mixed with Epoxy Resin
Glass Recycled Surfaces turns glass bottles, recycled porcelain fixtures and other materials into products ranging from countertops to flooring to wall applications. By mixing crushed glass with an epoxy resin, the company has created over 1,000 custom designs. According to the company, its products are cost competitive with quartz and granite and provide a great long term value to the end user and will uphold their beauty because of their heat, scratch, and stain resistance. The products do not require a sealant or application of a wax, are inert and VOC-free and can contribute to USGBC LEED points. Products contain about 80 percent recycled glass, porcelain, or shell.
Chris Milmoe, Executive Vice President of Operations, says all of the glass used is American recycled—in Indiana and Texas. Glass Recycled Surfaces currently offers 20 different products. “Our epoxies can be matched to any paint,” Milmoe says. Custom color combinations and sizes are available and worn surfaces can be ground down and easily resurfaced.
“We are seeing some growth in the hospitality industry,” Milmoe says, adding that his company’s products have been used in hotels in their lavatories.
Glass mulch is also available from Glass Recycled Surfaces. It retains moisture and reduces evaporation rather than absorbing water like wood mulch. Glass mulch ground cover works well in garden pathways where erosion and drainage is a concern. For best results, it is recommended that you first apply a landscape fabric barrier to keep dirt from mixing with the recycled glass.
Glenn Hasek can be reached at email@example.com.