There is evidence that recycling started as early as 400 BC, when ancient civilizations would take glass from conquered villages and reuse the glass in their own settlements. Recycling materials, such as glass, became necessary for survival, especially in times of disease, war, or famine.
Recycling took another step forward during the Great Depression and WWII, when recycling and reusing materials became vital, since resources and materials were limited and people could no longer afford to purchase new materials. Recycling and reusing became a symbol of the war, and a way for American’s back home to do their part to help the war effort.
American’s recycling effort took a step back after WWII ended in 1945, especially during the 1950’s when the economy had rebounded. Many recycling programs were abandoned in favor of disposing of waste in landfills. The environmental movement was becoming more prevalent by the 1970’s when awareness of recycling and the need for recycling became mainstream. Bottle bills or container deposit laws, are bottle compensation programs, which were created in some states to incentivize recycling. (Ranch Town Recycling Center Inc.)
Bottle bills require a minimum refundable deposit on beverage containers in order to incentivize a higher rate of recycling and reuse. The deposit-refund system was created by the beverage industry as a way to ensure the return of their glass bottles to be washed, refilled, and resold. With beverage containers composing of 40-60% of litter, a deposit encouraged people to return their glass containers, keeping them out of the streets, waterways and wilderness. (Container Recycling Institute)
The next step for American recycling came in the 1990’s when single-stream recycling was introduced in California. Single-stream is a system that combines all recyclable items such as paper, plastic, metal, and glass together in a collection truck, rather than being sorted into separate materials and handled separately throughout the entire process. Single-stream is designed to handle the fully commingled mixture of recyclables, but this leads to a major drawback when it comes to recycling glass.
Single-stream recycling has many advantages, but one of its biggest disadvantages is the fact that single-stream does not work well for recycling glass. When glass is combined with the other recyclable materials it commonly breaks and becomes impossible to sort out while also contaminating the other recyclables. This is why we must rethink the single-stream system to make recycling more efficient.
Clear Intentions provides services that remove glass out of the single-stream recycling system. To ensure that 100% of this infinitely reusable material actually gets reused.