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Glass recycling figures bloom in SA

Proof that South Africans have heard the call and are adopting new “green” habits can be seen in the latest figures released by The Glass Recycling Company (TGRC), showing a radical shift in glass recycling rates over the last year.

According to CEO of TGRC Shabeer Jhetam, a staggering 295 879 tons of glass have been recycled for the period July 2009 to June 2010; a marked increase on last year’s 244 845 tons collected over the same period. An exceptional achievement is the fact that glass volumes recycled have grown in excess of 100 percent in the last four years. In other words, the amount of glass recycled has effectively doubled since 2006.  

“”To make glass recycling as hassle-free as possible, we have launched a SMS line that gives consumers direct access to glass bank lists at the touch of a button. Finding the location of the nearest glass bank in any given area is as simple as sending a SMS with the word ‘GLASS’ and the name of the suburb to 32310*,”” explains Jhetam.

“”Our goal has been to show South Africa that glass recycling is a fundamental part of protecting the environment, and that everyone can do their bit to give back and help the planet one glass container at a time.””

To shed light on the circumstances, the energy saved from recycling just a single glass bottle can power a 100-watt light bulb for one hour. Glass is infinitely recyclable and the environmental advantages derived from the recycling of glass are clear. The manufacture of new glass products uses a variety of resources that also can be saved when waste glass, known as cullet, is used instead of raw materials. The resources saved by recycling glass include sand, soda ash, limestone, water and of course, energy.

When large enough volumes of waste glass are collected, they can be sold in bulk to buy-back centres and recycling entrepreneurs. Returnable bottles can be taken back to the retail outlet they were purchased from to get back their “returns” deposit. Approximately 80 percent of malt beers, as well as a significant amount of spirits sold in South Africa are packaged in returnable bottles. 

South Africa’’s sophisticated returnable system, the investment, infrastructure and operating costs of which run into billions of rands, decreases the need for the production of new bottles, hence decreasing the volumes of glass going to landfills. If this returnable system was not in place, the glass manufacturing industry in South Africa would need to be three times larger than it currently is. The returnable system results in a saving of approximately two million tons of glass which could potentially end up in landfills.

Urban household consumers of glass who take waste glass to community glass banks around the country should not, however, expect to be reimbursed as no cash exchanges hands for an essential behaviour; helping save the planet should be reward enough. South African glass manufacturers have invested considerably to provide advanced glass recycling processing technology, which is capable of receiving glass from the waste stream, separating glass by colour and removing contaminants. This removes the need for hand-sorting of glass to ensure that recycled glass is available as a suitable raw material.

The disposal of glass can take place at local community glass banks. This includes alcoholic beverage and soft drink bottles, as well as jars which contained food and condiments. It’’s important to note that light bulbs, crockery, and cookware such as pyrex are not recyclable. Neither are glass window panes, computer and TV screens, windscreens or laboratory glass. This glass has different properties that can contaminate a recyclable load of glass.

“”All that you need to do to recycle glass is take it to your local glass bank and put it in – no need to worry about washing the glass or removing labels. We are trying to make the process as simple as possible to help move South Africans closer to being carbon neutral,”” says Jhetam.

For more info, visit www.theglassrecyclingcompany.co.za 

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