Friday, April 20, 2007

Discipline with Glass Bottles

Glass was once a dominant product in the industry and was used for anything from a glass table top and beverage containers. A lot of glass use is governed by the trends in different industries like Automobile and Construction. While on one hand the use of glass in automobile industry has gone down, the construction industry has lately been fascinated by it. It is not uncommon to see fully glass clad buildings even in the underdeveloped countries now.

One industry in which the usage of glass has remained fairly constant, though, is the food industry. We still get beer and juice in glass bottles. Quite amazingly, glass seems to be coming back into trend now. Coke has glass bottles and the popularity of Wine has increased the usage of glass.

The big question, however, is - what do we do with our glass bottles after we use them. I was talking to a friend of mine who I recently got to know and who is also a passionate recycler. She along with one of her other friends collects a whole lot of glass bottles from their friends and in her office and sells them back to the recyclers. They get an average of $0.07 (7 cents) for a bottle. But here's the amazing figure - it totals to over $40,000 a year between the two of them. And, this figure seems to increase every year partly because they are now getting people to participate in their program, but also because the usage of glass is increasing in our daily lives.

Sadly, most of us are not disciplined enough to throw the bottles into recycling bins, we just toss them into our normal garbage bags and forget about it. Why, because who'd care to be so disciplined for a mere 5-7 cents a bottle. But the problem is that increasing amounts of glass is now ending up in landfills. Imagine acres and acres of beautiful land having glass buried under it. What are we doing to our planet and can we prevent this from happening? Sure, we can. The lesson to learn comes from a very unusual group of people. Interestingly, my friend also told me that the most disciplined people she has come across when it comes to recycling glass bottles is none other than beer drinkers. I am suspecting that this trend would be the same across North America. Ketchup, pickels, jams, juice bottles and broken frame glasses and other discarded glass items still end up in the trash can, predominently. I guess, we are still not used, or shall I say discipline to, throw them in the recycling bin instead. And, this is the habit we've got to change if we have to save our planet.

The size of landfills and the waste generated per person in North America is at its peak right now. In other words, it is increasing and there are no signs of it reducing anytime soon unless we all change our per capita waste generated. The easiest way to do that is to start with glass. Use less of it and if you use it try to recycle it.

I have in the past come across confusion around the potential of recycling colored glass. Red, Brown, Green, Blue, no matter what color, it is qualifies as recyclable. See if you can get find some time out to collect the glass waste from your friends and turn it to a recycling program and earn some cash. Nice way to get some money out for charity. Isn't it?


Nitin said...

Nice article Rajeev. Looking for future insights