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Factors that Determine Recycling Prices for Glass

by Olufisayo
glass recycling price

Recycling and reusing are now on the agenda of every company. Those involved in the glass business or who use glass as part of their supply chain prioritize glass recycling.

Some European countries recycle almost 90% of their glasses, while in the US, that number is around 33% or one-third. You must be wondering why there’s such a significant discrepancy and if it is due to the cost. This article will specifically look at glass recycling prices and how it affects the entire recycling industry.

The Recycling Process

Different companies may adopt a separate process for recycling glass. They may have separate guidelines for procuring waste glass and processing it at their facilities.

The standard recycling process is something like this:

The waste jars and bottles are collected and then pre-treated with hot blown air. It removes plastic and paper impurities. Then it’s processed under magnets, which takes away any metal objects.

The bottles and jars are then crushed and melted to form a mold, which can then be used to create other glass products. This is the standard process, and any deviation from it will likely add up to the total cost.

Some companies may have a more specific requirement. So they only select a particular color or quality of glass. This will call for additional steps, which will then raise the cost.

Supply and Demand

The second determinant of glass recycling prices is supply and demand. This is basic economics that affects every goods or service.

When the waste glass recovered is less than the demand, then the cost of cullet (crushed glass) is likely to be higher. Likewise, if more glass is converted into cullet than supply, then the prices will stay low.

Demand is usually never lower. Companies using glass as part of their business often need cullets all the time. It’s because cullets cost less than buying glass manufactured from the sand.

It’s mostly the supply that lags. So the prices for recycled glass are usually higher than average.

Another economic factor is the labor cost involved in procuring and processing the waste glass. The infrastructure plays a more significant role in how efficiently the glasses are recovered. European countries, because of better infrastructure, can derive higher waste glass. That’s not the case with the USA because of which it produces lesser cullets.

Quality of Glass

The last significant factor that determines the glass recycling prices is the quality of the glass. In this context, quality means the purity of the glass. So if the cullets have way more impurities or different glasses, they are valued less than homogenous glass mixture.

The purity is of such high importance that even an 80% pure mixture will sell at a negative $35-50 per metric ton. If it’s 95% pure, then the cullets can sell for around $10 per metric ton. Companies that procure recycled glass require at least 99.8% pure glasses.

The other factors that impact glass recycling prices are regulation, news, and technology. When there’s a major technological breakthrough in glass purification, the prices go down. Similarly, if there’s a breakthrough that allows for higher waste collection, the prices go down as well.

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