Recycled Glass Countertops - Why They Are Considered Green

Recycled Glass Countertop
Recycled Glass Countertops - Terrazzo Type

Recycling glass is a sustainable activity because almost all glass is completely recyclable and can be recycled endlessly.

Recycled glass countertops take glass that would normally be discarded or thrown away and turn it into a usable product.

Plus, glass is made from sand as its base natural material and by recycling glass you eliminate the need to quarry new material.

If you are looking for another way to add "green" into your home, a recycled glass countertop would be a stylish and trendy way to do so.

'Every ton of glass that is recycled results in one ton of raw materials saved to process new glass, including: 1,300 pounds of sand, 410 pounds of soda ash and 380 pounds of limestone.'

How is Glass Recycled?

The reclaimed glass is first sorted into colors. Glass comes in four base colors: green, brown, blue and clear. All glass must be separated by color to make sure that the new glass is not created from a blend of different colored glass.

So old green glass would be used to create new green glass, old blue glass would be used to create new blue, and so on.

Recycled glass first becomes a “cullet.” A cullet is the glass industry's term for crushed glass. When products are made from this cullet material there is less energy needed than when it is made from all fresh or new materials.

Cullets are created by melting down recovered glass in a furnace. There is a significant energy savings because glass that has already been produced takes less energy to melt than virgin raw ingredients.

Recycled Glass Countertop
Recycled Glass Countertops - Terrazzo Type

This melted glass from cullets results in the first type of recycled glass countertops, pure glass countertops.

Pure Glass Countertops:

Pure glass countertops are just that; a pure, custom, all glass countertop that can be formed into many forms and styles. They can be up to 100% fully recycled glass material. Surfaces can be smooth as well as textured glass.

All pure glass countertops provide a durable and highly polished surface that is non porous. Because of this, pure glass countertops are a perfect choice for kitchen areas. They are extremely hygienic because the non-porous surface offers no place for germs and bacteria to live. Another added benefit is the surface is shaped all in one piece so there are no seams, gaps or joints. These surfaces are also heat tolerant and will not scotch, burn or melt.

Terrazzo Patterned Recycled Glass Countertops:

Recycled Glass Countertop
Recycled Glass Countertops - Solid Glass Type

Terrazzo type recycled glass countertops are made from broken and or crushed pieces of glass. This broken glass is then combined with a binding agent, formed and after hardening is buffed smooth. There are two main types of binding materials; cement based and resin based (or petroleum base) binders.

The use of a petroleum (resin) binder is a less expensive product but its base material is oil. And in an age where we are all trying to reduce our dependence on oil, this may be an item for concern. The benefit with using a resin based product comes with its ability to provide a non-porous surface that does not require sealing to protect it from stains or other house hold cleaning solutions.

On the other hand, a cement based binder countertop would be required to be sealed periodically and may lend itself to staining from coffee, ketchup, vegetable oil and red wine if not kept sealed.

Cement binder recycled glass countertops could also be etched by common household substances like vinegar, bleach and lemon juice. Note: the glass in the countertops would not etch, it would be the concrete binder that would.

Although it sounds like a concrete binder is not as good due to its requirement of a sealer, the sealing process can be a simple 20 minute procedure. Just clean the surface, spray on a specifically made stone sealer, let it sit for the required time (usually 20-30 mins) and wipe away.

Recycled Glass Countertop
Recycled Glass Countertops

What Do They Cost?

Recycled glass countertop are are similar in price to granite - and cost about $60 - $95 per square foot, for the materials alone. The final cost will depend on the manufacturer, location, type, size, thickness, color and finish. Glass countertops with artistic detailing will cost more.

Most people will choose to have countertops professionally installed. Because counters need to be cut exact in order to fit properly and because they often require special cuts for the placement of sinks, it's wise to bring in a professional.

Recycled glass (Terrazzo type) countertops can cost as much as pure glass ones depending on the design and where you buy them from. If you shop around a bit, you are bound to find attractive ones that are on the less expensive side.

The popular names for cement based recycled glass countertops are IceStone, Vetrazzo, Curava, Rinato and Gilasi. The popular names for resin based recycled glass countertops are Eco, Trend Glass, Zodiaq, EnviroSLAB, and Terra.

Things to consider for Recycled Glass Countertops:

Other than that, recycled glass countertops are one of those items that you will find incredibly distinctive. They almost fall into the category of countertop art. They are gaining in popularity for two main reasons, their environmentally friendly characteristics and their unique and beautiful look.

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