Is Tempered Glass Environmentally Friendly? (Explained)
Being environmentally friendly is becoming more and more important. This is because eco-friendly products promote green living that helps to conserve and prevent environmental pollution and therefore, save our lives in the long run.
So, is tempered glass an environmentally friendly product?
Tempered glass is a fully recyclable material. Besides, when it breaks, it shatters into harmless pieces and emits no harmful chemicals into the soil. So, even if it is not recycled, it does less harm to the environment compared to most materials.
That said, tempered glass is a green material for a number of reasons. All these reasons are aimed at reducing the need to discard the used tempered glass products into the landfills and here they are:
Tempered Glass is Fully Recyclable
The main reason tempered glass is referred to as an environmentally friendly product is that it is 100% recyclable. Just like other types of glass, the main component of tempered glass is silica & soda lime. Found in the sand, Silica is considered 100% renewable and a never-ending resource.
Glass recyclability begins from the manufacturing process. Unlike other products such as plastics, the cut portions of glasses are always kept for future production.
You may be wondering how that is possible with tempered glass, considering a glass cannot be cut, remodeled, or reworked once tempered. And for this reason, most companies always discard them because if you try to cut them they explode.
Well, some companies have eliminated the need to discard tempered glass cullets by adopting a process that will de-tempered the glass. After the panel is de-tempered, it can be cut, re-cast, and used in a future project. This makes tempered glass wastes (cullet) to be recycled and
Thanks to its recyclability, the amount of solid waste to the environment produced by glass materials during manufacturing is extremely low. This is because almost all glass waste (cullet) is immediately recycled and put back to furnaces as raw material.
Moreover, you can take used up tempered glass products, melt them and turn them into a new thing. Even the ones that were used a hundred years ago can still be recycled.
Tempered Glass is Durable
Another important aspect of tempered glass that contributes to its eco-friendly nature is its longevity. Tempered glass products are long-lived and rarely discarded. We can keep a tempered glass material in use for literally centuries. A well-taken care of tempered glass material will outlive its owner. For that reason, its environmental impact per unit of use becomes very minimal.
What makes tempered glass so strong is the fact that they undergo special treatment during processing. During tempering, a glass is subjected to a special heat treatment during which it is heated to 680 degrees celsius. After heating, the glass is cooled rapidly through a process called quenching.
After the glass is tempered, it becomes four times stronger than non-tempered glass. Though the resultant product can still scratch, break and shatter, it is more resistant to breakage and scratches than ordinary glass.
Tempered Glass has Unique Breakability
Tempered glass will break when subjected to massive impact. However, instead of breaking into sharp larger pieces like ordinary glasses, they shatter into tiny pebbles. This quality is a result of the cooling effect it undergoes.
Watch this video for further explanation:
The resulting pebbles don’t have sharp edges and therefore, are less likely to cause injury than if a standard glass table broke into shards. This quality makes them safer when they get into our environment than non-tempered glass.
Tempered Glass are Non-Toxic and Can be Reused for Multiple Purposes
Tempered glass containers do not contaminate the content with dioxide. For that reason, they can easily be sterilized and used again for other purposes.
Like I always say, a bottle of tempered glass that has been creatively turned into another use for fifty years is environmentally safer than one that is used once, smashed, and recycled.
There are several inventive ways you can use tempered glass jars. Take a look at what I have turned mine into.
You can also use them as storage containers, make a herb garden, inexpensive desk organizers, toiletry holders, and much more.
What are Some of the Harmful Effects of Tempered Glass on the Environment?
Well, tempered glass is only safer than most materials such as plastic and other types of glass but is not 100% safe for our environment. The major environmental effect of this type of glass is atmospheric emission from melting activity during processing.
The combustion of natural gas/fuel oil and the decomposition of raw material during melting lead to the emission of CO2. This is the only greenhouse gas produced during the production of tempered glass.
Moreover, tempered glass is not biodegradable and the broken pieces can harm humans if they get their way into the landfills. However, considering tempered glass is fully recyclable, you don’t have to discard it. Always ensure the used up glass is properly recycled.
Is Laminated Glass Windows More Eco-Friendly than Tempered Glass Windows?
It isn’t. Laminated glass usually consists of a plastic sheet sandwich between two thin sheets of plain glass. The sandwiched plastic layer acts as a glue to hold the pieces in place. This makes them hard to break and is mostly used as a windscreen.
However, the main concern with the laminated glass is that the plastic layer used isn’t recyclable and you can’t unstick the glass pieces once glued. Meaning, the whole thing once broken will go into a landfill. Moreover, they don’t break into pieces like tempered glass and may end up in the landfills as a whole.
In contrast, tempered glass is fully recyclable and the broken pieces are less harmful when they find their way into the landfills. That said, non-laminated tempered glass has less environmental impact than laminated glass.
Where is Tempered Glass Most Commonly Used?
Tempered glass products have become very popular and are applicable in many areas. While there may be some of the disadvantages you may encounter with this product, it is hard to argue with safety, durability, scratch resistance, and its environment-friendly nature.
It is mostly used as safety glass in automotive as vehicle windows, countertops/ tabletops, office partitions, and more. Tempered glass is also used in kitchen appliances, solar panels, mobile devices, and much more.
There are a lot of benefits to embracing a sustainable environment. It is time to take action and protect our environment by adopting the use of tempered glass. We look forward to being a partner in maintaining the natural beauty of the world in which we live!