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#WhyWasteIt? An inside look at the recycling process

Guest blog from Katie McKeon of Momentum Recycling

In response to increasing community demand for better glass recycling options, Momentum Recycling built a state-of-the-art glass recycling plant in Salt Lake City in 2012.

Here’s an inside look at the glass recycling process!

sorting - CopyStep 1: Glass is sorted          

The first two stations are dedicated to sorting out contamination. Common contaminants are ceramics, Pyrex, aluminum cans, light bulbs, cardboard, window frames and mirrors. The remaining stations are dedicated to sorting out non-brown glass, which is batch processed later.


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Step 2: Glass bottles enter the Breaker

The glass enters the breaker via conveyor belt. It is shattered using 24 hammers, each the size of a forearm, spinning quickly around an axle. This is designed to shatter into larger particles for future optical sorting. A slight mist is applied to control any airborne particles.


Step 3: Broken glass enters the Trommel

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The shattered particles are passed through a revolving screen and sorted into 3/8” and ¾” sizes. A fan propels the paper labels detached during breaking behind the trommel; this is recycled each day. Anything that doesn’t shatter, and cannot fit through the trommel screens, is ejected into the discard bin.

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As you can see, we find quite a bit of metal! We send this off to Western Metals to be recycled


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Step 4: The glass is cleaned and dried

 The 3/8” and 3/4” sized glass enters the fluidizing bed drier. The glass is heated to 180 degrees using natural gas, which burns the sugars and bacteria. The paper label glue is loosened and sucked away via our vacuum system.


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Step 5: Ferrous Metals Magnet

A powerful rare earth magnet removes ferrous metals from the dried 3/4” and 3/8” glass. Common find include batteries, bent caps and Grolsh closures. During peak production, this magnet is cleaned every ten minutes!


Step 6: Screen glass to specific mesh size

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The dried and cleaned glass is screened to cull out specific sizes. Glass particles that are too big to fit through the Rotex screen are sent through the Pulverizer. Similar to the breaker, the Pulverizer uses 36 hammers inside a smaller enclosure to aggressively reduce particle size. All particles recirculate until they finally pass through the Rotex screen.


Step 7: Dust Collection

Dust and free paper bits are vacuumed up at many points throughout the plant. All of this material is collected in a large filter house. The glass dust is screened away from paper bits, producing marketable glass dust. The remaining paper bits are recycled.

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Finished Product!

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