Archive for May, 2011

Glass Recycling

I shared in my last post about how difficult it has been finding someone or someplace that takes old window glass. Not just takes old window glass, but recycles old window glass. As you can see below, replacing all the windows in a small ranch house means quite a stack of old windows.

After a few days of searching the internet for a company nearby and making a few dozen phone calls, I think I found one.

Dlubak Glass Company of Ohio. Their website boasts about how many types of glass they recycle and sell as cullet, or crushed glass, to manufacturers all over the United States. The best part? Their Ohio facility is just over an hour from me, located in Upper Sandusky. I called them late last week to ask about how to go about bringing old windows in. Although they informed me they don’t pay very much per pound for window glass, they do accept it. They just asked that I remove the glass from each window sash.

It will probably be a few weeks yet until I take a Saturday morning drive with a van full of glass, but I will sleep much better at night knowing that I saved that much waste from the landfill. I am first going to try to give the windows away on FreeCycle or Craigslist, but most of them are in such horrible condition that I can’t imagine anyone would want them.

In this whole search process, I was disappointed how many area municipal recycling services plainly told me that window glass could not be recycled. Wrong. It can be, just not by that county’s facility. I am thinking of calling each recycling center back and informing them that they are wrong and that in the future they should recommend Dlubak Glass. Not that every DIY enthusiast is as recycle-happy (crazy?) as I am, but it disturbs me to think of how many people might choose to recycle their old windows but were plainly told it can’t be done.

Now for some as-promised statistics on glass recycling.

  • Glass never “wears out.” It can be recycled indefinitely.
  • Using 50% recycled glass means cutting the amount of raw materials created through mining waste by 75%.
  • Using recycled glass uses only about 68 – 75% as much energy as producing new glass.
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Window Pains

We are within sight now of having the window replacement project completed. I can count the remaining windows to replace on one hand (without using every finger!). It has been a long process of DIY, learn as you go. We have discovered the nests of black ants, the abandoned tunnels of carpenter ants and a few windows that were never insulated when originally installed!

Carpenter Ant Damage

As the project winds down (just two more good weathered Saturdays?), I have accumulated quite a collection of old windows. One window literally fell apart as we were tearing it out; the frames just fell away from the sashes, luckily without breaking any glass.

I do have uses for two of the replaced windows. We chose not to purchase new windows for the detached 1-car garage since it’s not insulated or even drywalled on the inside. The current windows in the garage look as if they are held in only by silicon and screws, and will probably fall out before too long if not repaired. Once the windows in the house are all replaced, I plan on using two of the windows taken from the house to replace the two in the garage. They will be a huge improvement over the current ones. Some new paint on the outside will have them looking just fine.

But that still leaves me 13 old windows of various sizes to get rid of. As a graduate of a college program that taught sustainability above Reading, wRiting, and aRithmatic, it kills me to think of driving these old windows to our city waste center. That is seriously a lot of trash, and I just can’t bring myself to do it. I have seriously tried to cut down my family’s weekly garbage by emphasizing how much can be recycled through our municipal recycling program, cutting our trash to less than one kitchen sized trash bag per week (not bad for a large household). To pay to have these windows put in the trash would just kill my “recycling is for everyone” spirit.

So this morning I have made a dozen phone calls to any company I think might take window pane glass or tell me where to take it. What have I learned? That recycling food grade glass, such as glass jars or bottles, is quite easy and common. Recycling window pane glass (or Pyrex bowl glass, or car windshield glass) is not so common. Several people, including our own city recycling center, told me that everyone just takes old windows to the dump. I am more than happy to disassemble the windows, either using the wood frames for firewood or scrap uses, but I just need someone to tell me where to take the glass.

Apparently finding someone to take the glass will not be a local search. So I have expanded my search to half of Ohio, Michigan and Indiana. I have a few leads, but still need to make several more phone calls. I can justify taking one long trip to deliver the window glass much more than taking the glass to the landfill. After all, the energy saved by recycling one aluminum can is enough to power a computer for 3 hours! Surely there have to be just as compelling energy statistics about recycling window glass.

So my search continues for now. I just hope I won’t have to drive halfway across the country in order to get this glass recycled. Any suggestions?

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