Glass in various forms is ubiquitous and it is difficult to imagine human life without it.
It is made from silica sand, soda ash (sodium carbonate) and limestone, all of which are common, plentiful materials.
The inert and impermeable quality of glass makes it an ideal material for holding and storing food stuffs and drinks. Although plastic products have taken over a major share of the market in this regard, glass is still the preferred container material for many products, so much so that glass containers make up a significant portion of the waste stream. According to a recent analysis of the total waste stream performed by the Cayman Islands Government, glass makes up approximately 3.9 per cent of the total waste volume by weight.
Glass can be reused, as in the case of refilling glass beer bottles; can be recycled into new glass thus saving about 40 per cent of the energy compared to making new glass; and can be crushed for use as aggregate replacement in non-structural concrete, asphalt and paver stones. In Cayman glass is both reused and recycled. CayBrew is taking back bottles to reuse and Dart is grinding glass and supplying it to Flowers Block to replace about one third of the aggregate in paver stones. The recycled glass pavers can be seen at several locations on-island such as the walkway along the beach at Kimpton Seafire Resort + Spa, the parking area at Cricket Square and many of the walkways at Camana Bay.
Currently all glass and ceramics collected through the government and other recycling depots is crushed through the Dart-operated glass grinder. Records indicate an average daily production of about one ton per day. When compared to the total volume of glass currently disposed, the recycled amount adds up to about 10 per cent of the total glass volume.
Reuse and recycling of glass will continue to be one aspect of the planned integrated solid waste management system that is being jointly developed between the DECCO Consortium and the Government.