California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle)

Glass Recycling

Supply and Demand

Supply: Glass Disposal and Generation

Container cullet is available from two major sources: buyback centers and curbside programs. The remaining cullet is recovered at drop-off centers and community service programs.

CalRecycle conducts waste characterization studies which include information about various materials in the waste stream This information can be considered as potential glass supply.

The following five categories were used to classify glass in the statewide waste characterization studies: (1) All Glass, (2) Refill Glass Containers, (3) Redemption Value Glass, (4) Other Recyclable Glass, and (5) Other No recyclable Glass. Notice that these glass categories differ from the ISRI definitions previously given. CalRecycle's glass categories were designed to assist communities in characterizing their waste streams and are not directly comparable to the ISRI cullet definitions. The 1995 and 1996 glass disposal and generation data are taken from baseline 1990 waste composition studies and use total waste disposed in California for 1995 and 1996. Waste disposal data for 1995 and 1996 are taken from annual reports of landfill disposal tonnage compiled by the Board of Equalization.

Demand for Glass Cullet

The demand for cullet in California is driven primarily by the production rates of California's glass food and beverage container and fiberglass manufacturing industries and the State's minimum content requirements for food and beverage containers and fiberglass.

State law requires fiberglass producers to use at least 30 percent postconsumer cullet in fiberglass building insulation made or sold in California.

State law also requires glass food, drink, and beverage containers manufactured in California to use at least 35 percent postconsumer cullet.

The Department of Conservation's Division of Recycling regulates the container and fiberglass minimum content mandates. For more information about the minimum content programs, contact the Division of Recycling at (916) 327-2775.

In California in 1996 approximately 730,000 tons of cullet were used in the production of glass containers (643,999 tons) and fiberglass (85,948 tons). The amount of cullet used in bottle and fiberglass production (730,000 tons) exceeded the amount of cullet returned through the redemption system by 110,655 tons. Non-bottle glass such as plate glass and cullet brought into the state from sources outside California make up the difference. In addition, some cullet collected in California is shipped outside the state for use. Plate glass cullet diverted from the California waste stream is used in fiberglass production.

U.S. Production of Glass

The U.S. Bureau of the Census provides information on glass production. Visit the U.S. Census Bureau's Business and Industry page and search on the term, glass.

Last updated: February 3, 2010
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