Glass and Sustainability: Beyond Its Lifetime

icestone
Lucas Ewing – Blog Post Week #5
IceStone has developed durable surfaces developed from recycled glass.  A company based out of Brooklyn, this surface has been identified as a sustainable alternative to other conventional surfaces of similar look and material composition.  The company is one of twenty worldwide to hold a Cradle-to-Cradle Gold certification, which ties in with the Cradle-to-Cradle design ideals of improving life cycle assessment.
This company develops their name-brand product from three key ingredients: recycled glass, portland cement, and non-toxic pigments to get colors desired by clients.  The surfaces are made with 70% recycled glass by weight, and are free of petrochemical or plastic resins.  The products are made to be scratch and UV resistant, and is covered by a 10 year warranty.
I think the idea of recycling glass is quite innovative, especially when considering how much glass can actually be recycled.  A statistic by the Glass Packaging Institute claims that currently only 34% of all glass containers are recycled, when in theory all glass containers can be recycled and repurposed [gpi.org].  This being said, I wondered why the same thing isn’t true for the construction industry.  Why has the construction industry practically given up on recycling glass?
From what I looked into it, the difference between recycling glass containers and window glass comes down to the variety of glass used in construction.  All the different types of glass, including things such as tempered or tinted, have to be separated in order to be reused into window glass other times.  Glass bottles and glass from windows are also made up of different chemical compositions, which means the two different kinds of glass cannot be mixed as well.
But in the same way that IceStone recycled glass into something unrelated to its original purpose, construction industry could repurpose glass beyond their own means as well, and this idea is already being flushed out by several companies already.  Fiberglass is one of the most commonly known materials that can be developed through this means of recycling, and has been around since the 1800’s.  Glassphalt is a material combination of glass and asphalt that allows road surfaces to have an illuminating feature to them.  These types of glass are also commonly recycled and used to make decorative pieces.  If the construction industry can start increasing how much of their material can be repurposed and recycled, glass will be a material that extends through time.
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