History of glass
The first remains of manufactured glass date back to the 16th century B.C. and they were decorative, luxury objects that were produced exclusively for the royal courts. The first glass objects were found in Egypt and they date back to the reign of Tuthmosis III (1504-1450 B.C.). The technique for producing glass evolved, until in the 1st century B.C. when the glass blowing technique was developed on the Phoenician coasts. During Roman times this technique spread as far as Germany.
The first objects of different colours and that mixed glass with other fine materials like gold date back to the first century A.D. and they were artistic pieces, richly decorated with glass threads of different colours, sculpted and with decorations in relief.
Today glass is the main material used for manufacturing durable and insulating containers for medicines, drinks and food because the glass is inert from the chemical point of view. Moreover, the glass is an essential material for the construction and automobile industries because of its hardness and transparency.
Manufacturing and recycling for sustainable development
The raw materials for manufacturing glass are silica sand SiO2, sodium carbonate Na2CO3 and calcium carbonate CaCO3, which are easily found and in abundance in our environment. Glass is obtained by melting these compounds at about 1,500 °C, which requires a lot of energy.
When the glass container reaches the end of its useful life and is placed in the green bottle bank, the recycling process begins. The container is transported to the treatment and glass recovery plants, like those of Gonzalo Mateo S.L., which produce an end product of treated glass that is free from impurities, called cullet, which is put into the glass furnaces to make new containers.
Glass recycling contributes directly to saving energy in the production process of glass:
- Thanks to the use of recycled glass with virgin raw materials, the melting temperature decreases, achieving an energy saving of approximately 1% for every 4% of recycled cullet that is put into the furnace as raw material.
- The energy saved by recycling one bottle, could power a 100 Watt light bulb for 4 hours!
As well as reducing the need for raw materials, we minimise the environmental impact caused by mining:
- Recycling 3,000 glass bottles saves more than a tonne of raw materials.
These facts mean that glass recycling is an activity that contributes to sustainable development and helps future generations.
This is our challenge and because we believe in it, our commitment is to recycle all types of glass, both household and industrial.
(Note: data provided by Ecovidrio and Ferver)
Benefits of the glass recycling process
- It reduces the use of natural raw materials that have to be mined, thereby minimising the overall environmental impact of the process.
- It reduces the emission of CO2 into the atmosphere due to the decreased energy demand in the mining process and the manufacturing process.
- The energy saving in the production due to the decreased melting point of the mixture of recycled glass (cullet) and the virgin raw materials.