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Facts and Figures about Materials, Waste and Recycling

Glass: Material-Specific Data

Glass is found in municipal solid waste (MSW), primarily in the form of containers such as beer and soft drink bottles; wine and liquor bottles; and bottles and jars for food, cosmetics and other products. Although most of the data is on glass containers, this analysis also considers glass materials in durable goods like furniture, appliances and consumer electronics.

This web page is a brief summary of glass material-specific data. For more comprehensive information, see the 2015 Data Tables on the Advancing Sustainable Materials Management: Facts and Figures Report page.

On this page:


Overview

This is a picture of glass bottles of different sizes, shapes, and colors. Some are transparent while others are green, yellow and brown.EPA measures the generation, recycling, composting, combustion with energy recovery and landfilling of glass materials.

EPA used statistics from the Glass Packaging Institute’s numbers on glass container shipment to estimate glass container generation. In 2015, glass generation was 11.5 million tons in the United States, which was 4.4 percent of all MSW generation.

EPA combined data from the Glass Packaging Institute with information from state environmental agencies to measure the recycling of glass containers in the United States. The amount of recycled glass containers was 3 million tons in 2015, for a recycling rate of 26.4 percent.

The total amount of combusted glass in 2015 was 1.5 million tons. This was 4.4 percent of all MSW combustion with energy recovery that year.

In 2015, landfills received approximately seven million tons of MSW glass. This was 5.1 percent of all MSW landfilled that year.

Please see the EPA Methodology Document for information on estimating glass generation and management.

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Summary Table and Graph

The data below are from 1960 to 2015, relating to the total number of tons of glass generated, recycled, composted, combusted with energy recovery and landfilled.

1960-2015 Data on Glass in MSW by Weight (in thousands of U.S. tons)
Management Pathway 1960 1970 1980 1990 2000 2005 2010 2014 2015
Generated 6,720 12,740 15,130 13,100 12,770 12,540 11,520 11,480 11,470
Recycled 100 160 750 2,630 2,880 2,590 3,130 2,990 3,030
Composted - - - - - - - - -
Combustion with Energy Recovery - 60 300 1,810 1,790 1,660 1,360 1,450 1,470
Landfilled 6,620 12,520 14,080 8,660 8,100 8,290 7,030 7,040 6,970

Source: Information from Glass Packaging Institute and state environmental agency websites

A dash in the table means that data is not available.

This is a graph on glass waste management, spanning the years 1960 to 2015. This graph is measured in tons, and shows how much waste was recycled, composted, combusted with energy recovery, and landfilled.

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