Glass is an amazing material. Not only is it durable, smooth and transparent, but it also has the unusual quality of being infinitely recyclable. Whereas other materials like plastic and metal gradually deteriorate over repeated recyclings, glass has the unique ability to be melted down and turned into something else over and over again, without ever experiencing any loss in quality. Add this to the fact that post-consumer glass containers now make up the second highest consumer waste product after paper, and you can see where I’m going here..
You can do your part to conserve this great resource by recycling glass containers, and by supporting industries that recycle and use recycled glass products. One good place to start is in your interior design. In the past decade, architects and material designers have begun to realize that the unique qualities of glass make it an ideal material for building – and not just in flat-paned windows and doors. Recycled glass is now making appearances in everything from kitchenware, to bathroom tiles, to the aggregate in floors and countertops.
Probably the most stunning architectural use of recycled glass can be found in Vetrazzo a ceramic aggregate material based in Richmond, California. Made from 85-90% post-consumer recycled glass, Vetrazzo is as smooth as marble and four times as strong as concrete. Is is usually used in countertops and tables but can also be used in floors and walls. The material comes in a wide variety of colors – check out Vetrazzo’s website for the current palette.
I once worked in a building with an all white Vetrazzo floor, and it was beautiful. The light would reflect and flicker off the glass specs, and I repeatedly found myself kneeling over to stare at the floor.
Interesting glass facts: Chemically similar to quartz, glass is a natural substance which occurs when silicon particles are heated and then cooled so rapidly that they don’t have time to form crystals. It is usually only found in nature at sites of intense heat such as meteor collisions, fires, and spots that have been struck by lightening.