Recycled Glass: A (Beautiful) 2,000 Year Old Tradition


Let’s shatter a few persistent myths about recycled glass. (Watch your fingers).

Myth 1: Glass recycling is a new technology.

Only if you define "new" as "in the last two millenia". Glass recycling is a tradition we’re glad to see renewed and made chic. The Romans did it. The Islamic world created the clear, colourless glass that dominates our era. We know medieval glassworkers melted down Roman glass. And so on. When it comes to glass, recent human history is one large melting-pot. And why not? It’s perfect for recycling”¦and thanks to our endless fascination with the beautiful material, it’s always in fashion, so there’s always demand (the lifeblood of a successful recycling business).

Myth 2: Recycled glass looks”¦.well, recycled.

Does a lumpy, mismatched, bubbly collaboration of different glasses, streaked with impurities, spring to mind as the default recycled glass "look"?

Thank goodness, there are plenty of sophisticated options. Take a look through The Green Glass Company‘s catalogue, for example. Anything that can be done with newly-made glass can be done with recycled glass. Or peruse our sponsor VivaTerra‘s gorgeous frosted plates.

Recycled glass really is no different from standard glass. Just take a look at these tumblers, produced in Bolivia by CRISIL. Or this water jug from the same range – I was stunned by the beauty and clarity.

Myth 3: Sure, tableware’s fun to use, but you soon run out of table.

That "firmer ground" you’re standing on could easily be made of recycled glass, if EnviroGlas of Texas have anything to say about it. Companies like New York‘s Ice Stone want to cover your kitchen and bathroom in stunning, durable recycled glass surfaces. Modern office buildings are being fitted with pane after pane of cost-effective recycled glass indistinguishable from non-recycled. It’s everywhere.

Another reason for choosing only recycled glass:

In 2006, Americans generated over 13 million tons of glass waste, and only 22% was recycled.

Image: Green Glass

Mike Sowden

Mike Sowden is a freelance writer based in the north of England, obsessed with travel, storytelling and terrifyingly strong coffee. He has written for online & offline publications including Mashable, Matador Network and the San Francisco Chronicle, and his work has been linked to by Lonely Planet, World Hum and Lifehacker. If all the world is a stage, he keeps tripping over scenery & getting tangled in the curtain - but he's just fine with that.