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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 2018 Data Tables on the Advancing Sustainable Materials Management: Facts and Figures Report page.

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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 2018, glass generation in all products was 12.3 million tons in the United States, which was 4.2 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 3.1 million tons in 2018, for a recycling rate of 31.3 percent.

The total amount of combusted glass in 2018 was 1.6 million tons. This was 4.8 percent of all MSW combustion with energy recovery that year.

In 2018, landfills received approximately 7.6 million tons of MSW glass. This was 5.2 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 2018, relating to the total number of tons of glass generated, recycled, composted, combusted with energy recovery and landfilled.

1960-2018 Data on Glass in MSW by Weight (in thousands of U.S. tons)
Management Pathway 1960 1970 1980 1990 2000 2005 2010 2015 2017 2018
Generated 6,720 12,740 15,130 13,100 12,770 12,540 11,520 11,470 12,300 12,250
Recycled 100 160 750 2,630 2,880 2,590 3,130 3,190 3,070 3,060
Composted - - - - - - - - - -
Combustion with Energy Recovery - 60 300 1,810 1,790 1,660 1,360 1,440 1,650 1,640
Landfilled 6,620 12,520 14,080 8,660 8,100 8,290 7,030 6,840 7,580 7,550

Source: Glass container information is from the Glass Packaging Institute and state environmental agency websites.

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


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