Jane Embury, marketing director at Wrightstyle, looks at the wonders of glass ahead of Glass Recycling Month in the USA.
The history of glass, since 3,000BC, has been largely about its functional and decorative development. Much more than this though, glass has helped shape the modern world in which we live.
For example, the invention of spectacles in the 13th century has added years to the useful lives of scientists and in the 17th century, the Dutch philosopher Baruch Spinoza also made his living as a lens-grinder.
In addition, the creation of the mirror was used by the 14th century Italian architect and engineer Filippo Brunelleschi to establish the laws of perspective and had a big impact on Renaissance painting.
Glass beakers are used to create modern science and then the invention of the microscope and telescope in the 16th century advanced our understanding of our planet and space.
Windows allow us to keep our homes light and bright and helped eradicate the plague from most of Europe by the early 18th century. The light bulb would also not have been possible without glass.
The UK now recycles over 1,500,000 tonnes of glass bottles every year – an annual reduction of some 385,000 tonnes of CO2 emission.
The European Container Glass Federation found in 2015 that the EU28 average recycling rate for glass packaging hit the 73% mark for the first time. The UK rate was 68%.
Although the UK lags behind some European countries, the good news is that waste glass, or cullet, is 100% recyclable, and can be used again.
However, more could be done according to Jane Embury. Therefore, she has suggested to the powers-that-be that the UK should also have a glass recycling month to help raise awareness of the wonders of glass, and encourage greater responsibility for its disposal.
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