Making glass requires a lot of energy, water, and raw materials like sand (silica), limestone, soda ash, and clarifying agents. After all, it is one of the manufactured materials that can be countlessly recycled without losing purity. Consequently, most newly manufactured glass materials are made using a significant portion of recycled glass.
Before taking to the recycling plant, glasses are shredded into tiny pieces called cullet. During the recycling process, the glass cullet is melted and turned into different items, including drinking glasses and glass fiber. So, the demand for finely powdered glass and the need for recycled glass are rapidly rising.
Glass is very abrasive, having a Mohs hardness of 5.5 to 7. As a result, glass is challenging to crush and requires specialized machinery. This challenging scenario calls for high-quality glass cullet production machinery for successful glass recycling. Read on to explore how it is possible to recycle most of the glass and contribute to the circular economy with the right equipment.
Dumping Waste Glass in Landfills: A Serious Environmental Issue
The current glass recycling process at a Materials Recovery Facility (MRF) relies on optical sorting using the broken glasses’ color. However, this recycling process can only take up a tiny portion of the glass because most cannot pass the optical sorting system due to its crushed condition.
In this single-stream system, most of the glass materials, including bottles, jars, mirrors, and containers deposited in the recycling bin, never reach the MRF, let alone be recycled into new products. As a result, only 21% of used glass is currently recycled worldwide. Ultimately, a large part of used glass ends up in a landfill where it takes around 2 million years to decompose, causing a severe environmental problem.
The Various Uses of Glass Cullet
The glass cullet has many applications. Some of them are given below.
- Cullet in a larger size is mixed with cement for building construction purposes or added with asphalt for road construction.
- Cullet in smaller sizes is mixed with bricks and ceramics to lower their furnace temperature.
- It is used as artificial sand on beaches that experience coastal erosion.
- Cullet is mixed with fluorescent paint used on roads
- It is added to the clay mixture to improve its quality.
Prater Backs the Circular Economy
The world is inching closer to a circular economy where waste reduction and recycling are increasingly taking the front seat. As discussed above, grinding plays a significant role in recycling, which is the heart of a circular economy. At Prater, we develop durable rotormills that allow fine grinding to produce high-quality yet ultra-smooth glass cullet. In addition, we also have the experience and expertise to set up quality custom-built grinding systems for these challenging applications. If you're looking for maintenance support or to upgrade your machine, contact us today!