Glass bottle and jar disposal and recycling

Glass is everywhere in our lives. It makes a great container for all food kinds because it’s sealable, washable, and reusable. It’s also food safe.

If you’re anything like millions of households in the UK, you probably already reuse your glass bottles and jars for storing dried rice or pasta or even arts and crafts resources. This prevents glass from entering our environment in dangerous forms and could be a huge help to saving natural habitats.

When glass is incorrectly disposed of, it often breaks. Sharp shards of glass can be a major hazard to young children, pets, wildlife, and even plants.

glass bottle recycling

What bottles and jars can I recycle?

For the most part, you can recycle all glass jars and bottles.

You can recycle glass bottles of any colour (including wine bottles, beer bottles, spirit bottles, and milk bottles). You can also recycle all glass jars (including those used for sauces, jam, and baby food. Non-food glass bottles and jars are also recyclable (these include decorative jars and bottles as well as ones that are used to store perfume, face creams, and aftershave).

There are some bottles and jars you can’t recycle, however. These include:

    • Drinking glasses
    • Vases
    • Mirrors
    • Glass cookware (such as Pyrex and the plates inside microwaves)
    • Nail varnish bottles
    • Light bulbs and tubes
    • Ceramics (such as plates, bowls, and earthenware)

These bottles and jars aren’t recyclable because they don’t melt at the same temperature as other glass bottles and jars. If you put these items in the recycling bins, it can mean that the entire load is rejected. It can also mean that new containers are vetoed.

These items can sometimes be recycled separately so you should always with your local council on their website or by telephone to determine the best way to recycle these items.

How should I recycle bottles and jars?

It’s always important to check the standards for recycled material because the incorrect procedure could mean the entire load is rejected or you pollute the area around your house.

Luckily the process is very simple:

1. Empty the bottle or jar and rinse it

You only need to give it a quick rinse but it can help remove leftover liquid that will otherwise contaminate other recyclables and mean that they can’t be recycled. Especially for bottles and jars that contained perishable food or liquid, if you don’t wash it out first, your recycling may start to smell.

2. Keep all caps and lids on

These can usually be recycled too. By keeping them on the bottle or jar, it saves them from getting lost during the sorting process.

Although you should always remove the corks from bottles because they can’t be recycled – although they can be composted!

What happens to bottles and jars during the recycling process?

All the glass bottles and jars collected are brought to a central recycling facility where it is sorted and transported to a glass treatment plant.

Here, it goes through a pre-treatment process where paper or plastic are removed with blown air and metal objects are removed with magnets.

After this, the bottles and jars are sorted by colour. They are then washed to remove any lasting impurities.

Next, the glass is crushed and melted according to colour. This liquid glass is moulded into new bottle and jar products which are distributed to suppliers who repackage the containers and send them out to retailers. And the life cycle of a bottle or a jar continues.

Glass recycling facts

Unlike other materials, glass does not degrade during this process so it can be recycled over and over. It is one of the most efficient forms of recycling for commercial waste. It is one of the few materials with an almost 100% rate of recovery of the original material.

The UK currently recycled 70% of its glass packaging, behind countries like Belgium and Sweden who are already climbing up 95%. Let’s catch up – recycle your jars and bottles.

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