Inside Colorado’s First Bottle-to-Bottle Glass Recycling Plant

Hover over each number to see all the steps of the glass recycling process.

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Colorado Glass Recycling Plant
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Incoming Waste Glass Storage


Incoming Waste Glass
• Almost all comes from single stream recycling

• Some source-separated and window glass

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Infeed Hopper

Infeed Hopper

• Holds 5 tons

• Feeds at an average of 15 tons per hour

• Feeder speed automatically adjusts

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Overbelt Magnet


Overbelt Magnet

• Pulls out ferrous metals

• Ejects into collection bin

• All collected metals are sent out for recycling

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Large Contamination Removal


Large Contamination Removal

• Separates bulky non-glass items from glass

• Examples include cardboard, wood, plastic lids, etc

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Roll Crusher


Roll Crusher

• Reduces larger glass items to a size that can be optically sorted

• Examples include whole bottles and bottoms of Champagne bottles

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Eddy Current Separator

Eddy Current Separator

• Uses electric current to eject non-ferrous metals

• Examples include aluminum cans, copper wire, stainless steel

• All ejected items are collected and sent for recycling

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Breezer


Breezer

• Forced air flows against the stream to remove light fraction fiber contamination

• Examples include shredded paper, soda straws, and paper labels

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Long Parts Separator


Long Parts Separator

• Separates and removes long, skinny

• Common examples include pens, pencils, toothbrushes, and plastic cutlery

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Primary Dryer


Primary Dryer

• Hot air (190º F) is forced through a bed of glass

• Sugars and bacteria are eliminated, paper labels are loosened, and other fibers are fluffed up for easier removal

• Residue floats to the top and is sucked out via vacuum

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De-labeler


De-labeler

• Label material is rubbed off of the glass particles via high-wear resistant paddles

• Glass particles are compressed together and rubbed against each other, abrading the labels while minimizing breakage

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Vibratory Splitter


Vibratory Splitter

• Our optical sorters can only sort glass particles 3/8” and larger

• This splitter separates sortable particles (+3/8”) from unsortable particles (-3/8”)

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Optical Sorters


Primary Optical Sorter
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•• We use the most advanced sorting technology available

• 10 Clarity brand sorters remove contamination and sort glass by color down to 3/8”

• Clarity sorters use optical sensors and compressed air jets to detect and separate particles

• Two primary sorters load- balance the flow of glass

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Finished Product Storage (Amber, Green, Flint)

Finished Product

• Color sorted, clean cullet is now ready for use in new bottle manufacturing

• Can be introduced directly into the furnaces for true bottle-to-bottle recycling!

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Vibratory Splitter: Mediums/Fines


Vibratory Splitter: Mediums/Fines

• Medium sized particles (less than 3/8”) are separated from Fine particles (less than 1/8”)

• Mediums are further decontaminated for use in bottle manufacturing

• Fines are processed and used as industrial abrasives, water filter media, or in fiberglass insulation

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Optical Contamination Removal (Mediums)


Optical Contamination Removal (Mediums)

• These Clarity sorters cannot sort by color, but can sort contamination out, down to 1/8”

• This also includes any metals that managed to survive the ferrous magnets and the Eddy Current Separator

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Fines Infeed Hopper


Fines Infeed Hopper

• Particles smaller than 1/8” are stockpiled, and then batch-processed together when quantities reach sufficient levels

• This “fines” processing stage starts with this infeed hopper

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Primary Rotary Screen


Primary Rotary Screen

• Dried and cleaned glass is screened to cull out specific sizes

• Screens can be quickly changed to produce different size grades for different customers

• For example, fiberglass manufacturing requires all particles to be 12 mesh or smaller

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Vertical Shaft Impact Crusher


Vertical Shaft Impact Crusher

• Glass too big for the primary screen is sent through the crusher

• A rotor crushes large pieces into sand-sized particles

• Particles recirculate until they fit through the screen

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Secondary Rotary Screen


Secondary Rotary Screen

• Particles that are small enough to pass through the primary screen are then processed through the secondary screen

• Particles are separated into different size grades, depending on the future use. Common size grades include:

– 12 mesh to 20 mesh

– 20 mesh to 40 mesh

– 40 mesh to 70 mesh

– 70 mesh and smaller

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Supersack Filling Station for Fines


Supersack Filling Station for Fines

• The different size grades are collected in large, pallet-sized woven bags, known as “supersacks”

• Once full, each supersack is tagged with an inventory label, indicating size grade, production date, weight, and lot number

• A full supersack typically weighs about 3,000 lbs

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Bagging Machine for Fines


Bagging Machine for Fines

• Some customers prefer to buy fines in smaller bags

• This bagging machine, known as a “valve packer,” uses compressed air to transfer market-ready fines from supersacks into 50 lb paper bags

• Bags are stacked on pallets using a rotating loader to prevent injury

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Cyclone


Cyclone

• All paper and other contamination sucked out via the vacuum system is separated from the air stream in the cyclone

• Solid contaminants extracted from the fast-moving air drop into a waste bin

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Dust Collectors


Dust Collectors

• Air from the cyclone still contains plenty of dust

• The dust collectors use hundreds of vertically-oriented sock filters to separate this fine dust from the vacuum air

• The dust is then returned to the plant, where it is bagged and sold