1. According to a 2018 study by the Glass Recycling Coalition, 90% of consumers and residents expect to be able to recycle their glass. Currently, 81% of U.S. recycling programs include glass options for residents.   *more than 300 from public-sector, glass industry, and MRF representatives surveyed.

  2. Glass recycling helps to preserve limited natural resources by reducing raw material use, reduces energy consumption as recycled glass melts at lower temperatures than raw materials, saves money on reduced landfill tons, and reduces air emissions.  Bottle to bottle is best, followed by fiberglass, then alternative uses.  All save resources/energy.

  3. Glass recycling programs can include container deposit systems, single-stream and dual-stream collection, drop-off, bar and restaurant programs, etc. Successful glass recycling programs consider a variety of elements, including local recycling infrastructure and proximity to end markets. Currently, there is not one universal fix to improve glass recycling in the U.S. Glass recycling solutions are locally-based, as is true with other recycling commodities.

  4. There are opportunities for regional collaboration for glass recycling and end markets. Communities have opportunities to work within their region for a central collection point for glass.  


  5. While many recyclables rely on export markets, the end market for recycled glass is primarily domestic. Recycling glass containers helps U.S. glass container and fiberglass manufacturing plants remain competitive and protects US jobs.


  6. Broken glass is not an issue for end markets. Historically only glass 3/8” and larger were recoverable but new processing technologies and new end markets now mean all glass fragments can be recycled as long as contamination levels are reduced. Recycling collection and sorting equipment with cleaning systems can handle straight color, as well as mixed color, glass containers.

  7. End markets need a consistent supply of quality glass bottles and containers to make cullet or recycled glass. Most glass containers collected curbside or commercially will need additional processing before being manufactured into new containers or fiberglass.

  8. Recycling revenue for commodities fluctuate. Glass is no different but its pricing is highly dependent on the amount of contamination.  99% glass / 1% contamination material has a higher value than 50% glass/ 50% contamination, but all can be separated from fines, dirt, shredded paper, bottle caps and are likely to find an end market, such as containers or fiberglass.







Risks of removing glass containers from the acceptable recycling program are: 

  • Disapproval from residents, who expect to be able to recycle their glass containers. Most residents view glass as a core recyclable along with paper, plastic bottles and aluminum cans.

  • Lack of confidence in recycling overall, mixed messaging to residents on what is and is not recyclable, and ultimately, the risk of difficulty reinstating glass recycling as part of future collection programs.

  • Residents are likely to continue placing glass in their recycling bins, which may  result in rejected loads at the materials recovery facility increasing costs for contamination.

  • Local governments will pay increased landfill tipping fees as the heavy weight of   glass containers is removed from the recycling mix. 

  • Use GRC’s decision-making tool to help guide you to resources available to make an informed decision:


Contract Considerations:

  • If your existing or new contract includes glass on your list of acceptable items, inquire about nearby markets for glass. Check out GRC’s market map for insights in your area:

  • Ask if the material recovery facility has implemented glass cleaning equipment that removes glass early to make it more marketable.

  • Establish a measurement system for glass sold post-MRF processing so that you can understand if the glass value has gone down or if the contamination has gone up. Consider establishing a contractual max contamination level to increase value.

  • If a lower price is being offered to remove glass make sure you understand the entire supply chain impacts and consider the above consequences for removing glass for additional education, potential non-compliance and overall confusion for your recycling program.


Why use glass?

  • Glass can be recycled endlessly with no loss in quality or purity.  Glass containers returned for recycling help to make new glass bottles and jars (which can include over 95% recycled content), as well as fiberglass. 

  • Glass recycling minimizes the impacts on natural resources.

  • Glass does not pose a threat to the world’s oceans and our food chain.

  • Recycling glass has big environmental payoffs as well—it saves raw materials, lessens demand for energy, and cuts CO2 emissions.

  • Plastic bottles and even aluminum cans are lined with plastic. Glass is a natural healthy choice. Glass is the only packaging material certified by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration as “generally regarded as safe.”

  • Most glass customers and suppliers are within 300 miles of production plants.

  • Recycling one ton of glass is equal to eight jobs

  • Recycling glass saves raw materials — Over a ton of natural resources are conserved for every ton of glass recycled, including 1,300 pounds of sand, 410 pounds of soda ash, 380 pounds of limestone, and 160 pounds of feldspar.


About the Glass Recycling Coalition: 

The Glass Recycling Coalition (GRC) aims to promote glass recycling best practices, strengthen glass markets, provide results-oriented resources for communities and manufacturers and collaborate to build a strong foundation for successful glass recycling. 




  • GRC represents the entire recycling value chain from across the US, 

  • ~40 member companies and organizations; 

  • State/regional recycling organizations through the Government Advisory 

  • Council, SRO membership (SERDC and NERC), 

  • Member collaboration for solutions for glass recycling challenges 

  • and potential action or assistance in areas with glass recycling issues.


GRC Accomplishments:

  • The GRC monitors the glass recycling at-risk areas with weekly research of hot 

  • spot areas,

  • Dozens of industry conference presentations annually, member-led 

  • Speakers’ Bureau,

  • 20+ media articles about glass recycling,

  • 31,500+ website page views since Sept 2016,

  • GRC Webinar reached 1000+ total attendees, 

  • Industry and public-sector survey of US glass recycling, 300+ responses (2018); 250+ (2017),

  • Intervention-focused workshops in Tennessee (2017), Georgia (2016), 

  • Variety of tools, resources and case studies on its website to assist communities, MRFs and glass recycling champions in strengthening their glass recycling programs.