What Happens to Our Bottles After we’ve Finished with them?

From water to wine, Philippa from Bottle Alley Glass tells us what happens to our old bottles after we’ve finished with them

2012-09-05 10.49.02

According to British Glass, the average UK household uses over 330 glass bottles and jars every year with 30% of that still ending up in landfill.  Glass can be recycled over and over again without losing purity or clarity, so why in the UK are we still throwing our glass away?

Glass Bottles

Did you know that the wine bottle you are currently holding is made from an average of 30% recycled glass? For every tonne of recycled glass that is crushed up and used to make new bottles we save 1.2 tonnes of raw materials. So why doesn’t all our glass end up being recycled back in to bottles?


Do you clean and de-label your bottles before you throw them in to the recycling? No, neither do I! But the labels and metal lids all contaminate the glass. Our glass industry has such high standards for its bottles, that it can not risk using more than 30% recycled glass to create its new bottles.


Look in your recycling now. What colour bottle or jar is most prevalent? My guess is that it is green and not just one shade of green either. We import over 200 million bottles of wine each year into the UK, while we manufacture much less, meaning that there is very little demand in the UK for recycled green glass. WRAP and Friends of Glass have just recently completed a 2 year programme demonstrating the energy and money saved by bottling the wine here in the UK. This has resulted in an increase in the use of recycled glass by over 24,000 tonnes per year saving 20,000 tonnes of CO2, equivalent to taking 6000 cars of the road.

Recycled Glass Products

So if only 30% of the glass recycled in the UK ends up back in bottles, where does the rest go?


Road-fill and Aggregates

The majority of our recycled glass bottles get crushed in to small pieces and used instead of rocks as aggregates in roads and other surfaces. While this is still reducing the amount of raw material needed to create the aggregate, it is not a good use for our old bottles, as once poured in to concrete or tarmac, it can not be recycled again. Why not use old stones, tiles or worktops instead, these are all equally as effective and are not recyclable.


Recycled glass worktops, splashbacks and tiles

Bottle Alley Glass take your empty wine bottles, crush them and then fuse them in large ceramic kilns to make them into a new glass worktops or splashbacks. By fusing only glass bottles, we maintain the purity of the glass and make a product that can be used and then recycled again.

So from water bottles to wine bottles to worktops, there is no end to life of a glass bottle, so drink up!


Written by Philippa, Bottle Alley Glass, www.bottlealleyglass.co.uk

Facebook: www.facebook.com/bottlealleyglass

Twitter: www.twitter.com/bottlealley

Image sourced: Bottle Alley Glass

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