Where your recycling goes – glass

A large pile of empty glass bottles at the bristol Waste recycling transfer station

Where does Bristol's glass recycling go?

Want to know what happens to glass bottles after they are collected from your recycling? We visited a glass processing plant to find out how they are broken down and what they’re made into.

We visited a glass processing plant in South Wales, where Bristol’s glass goes, to find out a bit more about what they do once they receive it.

There are three types of glass that we collect in Bristol; flint (clear glass), green and amber. The three types of glass go into the machines together and are sorted as part of the process.

The glass recycling process:

  • The material passes beneath a magnet which removes any steel.
  • It then passes through an ECS (Eddy Current Separator) which removes pieces of aluminium.
  • Then it goes through a crusher which chops it into 50p sized pieces.
  • From there it passes through two sorters which separate the glass from the other waste (such as paper or card), they do this as it passes over an air blade which blows the lighter material away.
  • Then it passes through two separate optical sorters which sort it into the different colours or can be altered to make any combination of different colours i.e. 75% Flint, 20% Green, 5% Amber.
  • From there it is shipped out to various companies depending on the type of mix they want.

Glass processing plants will then sell this final, sorted product on to organisations (for example Knauf, who use it to make insulation for houses) for reprocessing. Glass is endlessly recyclable and can be used to recreate items from new glass products to roads!

Keep an eye on our website for more stories about what happens to your recycling once it disappears from outside your house.

If you enjoyed this blog, go ahead and share it!