Whiskey is altered when it comes in contact with many substances and materials. Its taste and flavor are affected when chemicals from a container react with it. This is why glass bottles, being inert, are accepted universally for housing whiskey and other liquor.
With the worsening effect of the earths depleting resources, and carbon emissions on climate change and the environment, recycling whiskey and liquor bottles has become a necessity. But can glass whiskey/wine bottles be recycled? And how are they recycled?
In this post, answers to the questions above would be provided, along with discussions on the benefits and limitations of recycling glass whiskey bottles.
Recycled Whisky Bottles
Whiskey bottles like most liquor bottles are made of recyclable materials which are glass and plastic. Recycled whiskey glass bottles can be reformed countless times. However, only 36 – 40% of liquor and wine bottles are returned for recycling.
Places differ in their commitment to recycling. For example, in Canada, some places encourage recycling and even give a fee, but some other provinces do not. Some recycling centers retrieve bottles from pick-up locations and some others accept the bottles when it’s brought to them.
Why Are Glass Whiskey Bottles Recycled
- Recycled liquor glass bottles offer the fastest recycling process, as bottles can be in shopping malls a month after recycling.
- Liquor bottles do not lose their purity or quality regardless of the number of times they are recycled.
- Liquor bottles are one of the weightiest liquor packages and add considerably to the weight of waste in a landfill.
- Liquor glass containers offer air-tight and high-pressure seals, protecting beverages from oxidation.
- Produced from harmless materials (silica, soda ash, etc), glass is very safe.
Preparing to recycle
Conditions for storing glass whiskey bottles should be appropriate for recycling before transfer to a recycling center or pick up from a drop-off location.
Some of these conditions are:
- All the liquid in the glass bottles should be removed. The caps of the bottles should be separate to ensure the liquid is removed.
- Sludges like bits of cork can be left in the wine bottle. Also, the label does not pose a recycling problem.
- Broken glass bottles can not be recycled.
- Other recycling conditions are sorting for color and removal of non-container from the recycling bin.
Benefits of Recycling Glass Whisky Bottles
Recycling glass whiskey bottles, like any other material-based product, affects the environment and industry. On the other hand, recyclable packaging materials can also attract the attention of more environmentally friendly consumers.
The environmental advantages derived from recycling glass bottles and containers of liquor are remarkable. The environment is better off when whiskey bottles are recycled because of the following reasons:
Protects Raw Materials
The earth’s resources are protected by every glass bottle that is recycled. Every 1kg of recycled glass liquor bottle protects 1.2kg of sand and every ton conserves about 589kg of sand, 185kg of soda ash, 172kg of limestone, and 72kg of feldspar.
Recycling glass bottles contributes to the economy of a nation by reducing the budget for extra raw materials and conserving the resources in the nation.
Reduces Energy Demands
Cullet is the major component of recycled glass bottles. It melts faster than the raw materials needed in the production of glass and hence the energy required to recycle is low compared to what is required in making glass bottles from scratch.
With processes such as melting sand to about 1500 degrees celsius involved in making glass, a lot of energy and power goes into the manufacture of glass. Cullets reduce the energy cost by about 2-3% for every 10% cullet used.
Decreases Industrial Pollution (carbon emissions)
With 91% of the world inhaling polluted air, there is a need now more than ever to control what is emitted into the air.
Air and water pollution is decreased by 20% and 40% respectively when glass whiskey bottles are recycled. 1000kg of CO2 is prevented from polluting the air when 6000kg of glass is recycled. Toxic chemicals such as NO and SO2 are reduced with an increase in the use of cullet for recycling.
Reduces Solid Waste
Glass bottles trashed in a landfill do not decompose even after several years. Glass bottles are heavy waste products and take up the largest space in landfills.
Recycling whiskey glass bottles reduce the amount of space occupied by bottles that could otherwise be used for decomposable materials. Recycling glass bottles offer a shut system as it creates no extra waste.
Industrial and Economic Benefits
The industrial and economic benefits of recycling whiskey bottles are discussed below.
Used As Material For Production
Recycled glass whiskey bottles can be used as material for the production of a variety of glass materials such as fiberglass, liquor jars, squashed bottles, serving plates, tableware, etc.
These recycled glasses are remelted and repurposed for use in creating new products. Also, recycled whiskey glass bottles can be used for the production of decorative objects such as flowerpots and lamps.
Fiberglass companies and bottle manufacturers use an estimated 3 million tons of recycled glass bottles for the manufacture of new products.
Source of Income
Recycling glass whiskey bottles can serve as a source of income, especially in places where recycling bins are not available. Businesses that retrieve glass liquor bottles from the environment and transfer them to recycling plants make good profits in such places.
Some states have services that incentivize recycling glass bottles and support recycling businesses.
Limitations of Recycling Glass Whiskey Bottles
While the recycling of liquor bottles is very beneficial to the environment, industry, and the economy, there are a few drawbacks. Here are some of them:
The Cost of Recycling
The process of recycling glass, in addition to being complex, is expensive. The infrastructural costs are too high for some companies or states to incur. Some companies recycle their whiskey bottles overseas as they lack the required facilities.
Also, processes such as separation by color make whiskey bottle recycling difficult because they require equipment, labor, and materials that are not easily come across. Whiskey bottle companies analyze these costs and sometimes prefer manufacturing bottles from the beginning.
With the advancement and invention of new technology like the spectroscopy-based sorting machine, recycling proponents are sure that the process will become cheaper and more accessible.
Recycling Stealing Jobs
The average glass manufacturing business in the US employs 21 people and the average glass recycling business employs less than that. This is partly because there are more glass manufacturing companies than recycling businesses, but it is also because recycling plants do not need as much manpower as glass production companies.
The presentation of recycling plants as agents of unemployment does not encourage the recycling of glass whiskey bottles.
Some Glass Bottles Are Not Recyclable
Broken whiskey bottles are not to be recycled as they destroy the entire recycling process. To ensure that none of the recycled glass bottles lose their purity and quality, recycling bins should be rid of any broken bottles before taken to a plant.
Other glasses such as glasses from bulbs or windows contain impure materials that can damage the recycling process and should be separated from the recyclable glass whiskey bottles.
How Glass Whiskey Bottles Are Recycled
These are the processes through which whiskey bottles are recycled:
Storing And Retrieval
The first step in recycling glass whiskey bottles is storing them separately. This is done to prevent contamination from other recyclable substances. Glass is easily contaminated and storing separately protects the purity of the glass and the other materials.
Storing can be done in a drop-off location or a separate recycling bin. Recycling companies retrieve these stored bottles and send them to recycling plants or centers.
Inspection And Sorting
At the recycling centers, the bottles are inspected for impurities and the bottles selected for recycling are sorted.
The bottles are sorted according to different factors such as color (brown and non-brown), type, etc Contaminants like Pyrex and ceramics are removed during sorting.
In this process, recycling plants use a specialized machine to break the glass into smaller bits. In some plants, these bits go through another round of sorting called optical sorting.
This involves the use of a trommel. A trommel operates to separate the broken bits into different sections, collecting glasses of specific sizes. Some recycling centers separate into 3.4inch or 3.8inch sizes. The trommel also further sorts out stubborn contaminants that passed through the previous stages.
This process purifies the glass. The crushed glass passes through a bed dryer during which hot air from the dryer rids the glass of bacteria and impurities.
Pulverizing and Final Recycling
The crushed bits pass through a pulverizer which smashes it into smoothness. Glass particles that do not pass through a rotary screen after this process are further pulverized.
The final pulverized bits are classified into cullets of different grades. The cullets are then recycled to create new bottles.
Recycled glass whiskey bottles offer many benefits to the environment, health sector, economy, and industry. They also have limitations, which can not be compared to the benefits. To ensure that glass liquor bottles are recycled perfectly, environmentalists, recycling plants, and bottle manufacturers should be assisted.
Roetell manufactures high-quality glass bottles from scratch, and to keep the promise of nurturing an eco-friendly approach to glass production, we also operate a glass recycling plant. No glass should be wasted so feel free to contact us now for recycling glass bottles and for custom bulk orders of glass bottles!