What can you do with Window Glass?

We often refer to ‘recycled glass’ as glass that has been recycled – every type of glass that has been recycled. We are so familiar with bottle recycling programs that we forget that there are other types of glass and some of them cannot be used. Bottles, jars and glasses can all be put back into the system and made into something new.

Companies that manufacture bottles have heavily invested in the technology to crush old bottles and melt them down to make new ones. It helps cut down their costs as well as being eco-friendly, and is relatively easy to do. Bottles are fairly uniform in size and easy to sort into color without being too labor intensive, so recycling is economical and ensures there is always a supply of raw material.

Window glass is altogether a completely different proposition. It melts at a different temperature, is made up of a different chemical composition, so it cannot be recycled with bottle glass. With the advent of double and triple glazing, there is much more window glass than bottles, but it lasts longer so the wastage is much lower meaning there is much less raw material for recyclers. Recycled glass is less clear than virgin glass so windows cannot be recycled into new windows.

When a window comes to the end of its life it is still in a frame. To recycle a window it has to be removed from the frame which is much more labor intensive, and there are too many types, styles and designs of windows for it to be automated. The glass itself is just as variable as the frames they come in – tempered, safety, tinted, wired, and many other types of glass are available and may need to be recycled separately. But all is not lost. There are some things that you can do to recycle your old windows.

The most eco-friendly thing you can do with an old window – any type – is to recycle it as … a window! Cabins, cold frames, green houses and even tree houses could use old windows, even be made completely of old windows. Craft boards like Pinterest are full of ideas for upcycling windows in beautiful and easy tutorials, with full instructions.

The glass itself can be ground down and made into new Fiberglas or glasphalt, a new type of asphalt that is more durable and reflects light making it safer at night. Ground glass can also be stirred into the reflective paint for the lines painted on the roads as it increases the luminosity. Broken glass is also added to Terrazzo floor to create depth and give it a new dimension. Old window glass can also be tumbled to be used in garden projects  and craft items.

Finding a facility that recycles window glass may be harder but with a little perseverance can be done, but sites like Freecycle and kijiji are great for letting other people make use of your old items, and keep them out of landfill.

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