tops of glass soda bottles.
Glass waste facts

Glass Waste Facts and Statistics

Glass is one of the most used materials in the world. Windows, tables, drinks vessels, food containers, vases, and more are all made from glass. Humans have used the material for thousands of years. Today, homes and businesses across the UK and beyond create high volumes of glass waste every day.

The most important fact about glass is that glass is 100% recyclable. It can be infinitely recycled without losing quality and turned into new products. This means glass should never go to landfill and always be reused. However, global glass recycling rates aren’t 100%, so there’s still plenty of work to do.

Many businesses and homes produce glass waste daily and can do more to ensure as much as possible is recycled. Get a clear idea of how much we use and dispose of the often-transparent material with these glass waste facts and statistics.

Examples of glass waste

Most glass waste is simply a type of used product – such as an empty jam jar after spreading it all over your toast. The other main kind of waste glass is broken items like a cracked car windscreen or a dropped vase. Recycling is possible for most types of glass and some common examples are:

  • Bottles – used and empty glass bottles for beer and wine, olive oil, sauces, and any other liquids
  • Jars – any type of glass jar that’s no longer needed like those for condiments, jam, cosmetics, and glass candle jars
  • Glassware – broken or unneeded drinking glasses, jugs, containers, and vases
  • Window panes – broken or removed windowpanes from buildings or vehicles
  • Furniture – old and broken glass coffee tables, tabletops, lamps, or other furniture
  • Manufacturing – trimmed and offcuts of glass from the manufacturing process

What causes glass waste?

The main cause of glass waste is simply using its contents. This could be finishing a bottle of wine at home, drinking a bottle of beer in a restaurant, or emptying the last bit of mayonnaise from a glass jar in a commercial kitchen. Using any product in a glass bottle or jar creates waste that should be recycled.

Accidents are another reason for glass waste. Knocking over a vase, dropping a bottle, or cracking a car windshield may cause it to shatter and leave you with many shards of glass to clean up. Manufacturing glass products also leads to material being cut off and wasted – though it may be melted and reused.

Some of the main places that create waste glass are restaurants, bars, cafes, shops, and pubs simply because they use and sell many products in glass bottles and jars. As glass is infinitely recyclable it’s a good material to use and preferable to plastic alternatives, as long as it’s sent for recycling at the end of its life.

How to reduce glass waste
broken green glass beer bottle.

Glass waste statistics

Get a sense of how much glass we use and waste we produce as individuals and businesses with these important glass facts and stats. They help drive home how reducing glass usage and wastage even a little bit can help make a big difference. Here are some crystal-clear glass waste facts:

  • About 130 million tonnes of glass are produced around the world every year
  • Around five million tonnes of glass are used in the UK annually
  • In the UK we recycle around 76.5% of all used glass
  • Recycling one tonne of glass saves around 385,000 tons of CO2 emissions
  • The glass industry recycles around 27 million metric tons worldwide each year
  • If a glass bottle ends up in landfill it could take up to one million years to degrade
  • 1,350 glassworks with more than 2,500 glass furnaces operate today
  • The biggest glass furnace produces more than a million glass bottles and jars daily
  • The earliest examples of glass created by humans are from around 4,000 years ago by craftsmen in Mesopotamia

Glass recycling facts

Recycling glass is best for the environment. Consider these facts and stats about glass recycling for a greater understanding of the benefits:

  • Cullet is the name for recycled glass, and it requires a lower heating temperature than glass made from raw materials – which means 40% less energy is needed to make products from recycled glass
  • Recycled glass cullet saves raw materials – one tonne of cullet saves 590kg of sand, 185kg of soda ash, and 172kg of limestone
  • Every tonne of glass reused and recycled in the manufacturing process saves around 315kg of carbon dioxide

Which countries recycle 
the most glass?

Even though glass is 100% recyclable, no country on earth has a recycling rate that matches its potential. Glass recycling rates in Europe are generally higher than the rest of the world with the EU having a glass recycling rate of around 75%. That’s much higher than just 31% in the USA.

The countries that have the best glass recycling rates are:

  • Sweden – 95%
  • Belgium – 95%
  • Switzerland – 94%
  • Germany – 85.2%
  • UK – 76.5%
  • Italy – 70.9%
brown glass bottles for recycling.

Glass waste statistics at home

Lots of glass products are thrown away by homes across the UK every day. Some local councils accept glass in household recycling bins while in other locations you must recycle glass bottles and jars at your nearest bottle bank. As an idea of how much glass homes use here are some domestic glass waste statistics:

  • The average UK household uses 500 glass bottles and jars every year
  • Around 1,500,000 tonnes of glass bottles are recycled from UK households annually
  • Recycling one tonne of glass can make around 4,000 bottles and jars
  • There are around 3,000 glass bottle banks across the UK and each one can hold up to 3,000 bottles and jars before it needs emptying
  • Recycling glass is fast – an old bottle can go from your recycling bin to becoming a recycled glass bottle for sale in 30 days

Glass waste statistics and facts for 
pubs, bars, and restaurants

It’s no surprise that pubs, bars, and restaurants create high volumes of glass waste. Drink bottles, jars of condiments, ingredients in the kitchen, and even glass candle jars on tables are the main reasons. Recycling is important to help the environment but also reduces waste collection costs for such businesses.

Here are a few facts about the glass waste pubs and bars produce:

  • Bars, restaurants, and pubs send 200,000 tonnes of glass to landfill annually
  • Packaging and glass recycling levels are around 73% for pubs in the UK
  • Beer bottles are often brown as the amber tint reflects ultraviolet light that protects the beer from spoilage

How should I get rid 
of my glass waste?

Clean and dry any empty glass bottles or jars at home and either take them to your nearest bottle bank or put them in your household recycling bin – if glass is accepted. You can also take glass to most household waste recycling centres (HWRCs). Check your local HWRC will accept the type and amount of glass items before visiting.

Businesses must arrange commercial waste collection to get rid of any type and volume of glass. Licensed waste carriers must remove and transport your glass waste to recycling facilities to ensure its safe and legal management and disposal. At Business Waste we provide free bins and can arrange glass waste collection anywhere in the UK – you only pay for removal.

Call 0800 211 8390 or contact us online today for a free no-obligation quote for glass waste removal and recycling from your business, whether you run a pub, restaurant, café, shop, or any other organisation.

Get your free quote
free bins icon.

Get a fast and free quote

Get a fast FREE quote for glass waste collections

  • Free quote within 1 hr
  • Any type of glass waste
  • FREE bins and delivery
  • We cover all of the UK