Glass-only Recycling

James City County is pleased to offer the Glass-only Recycling program to citizens through drop off in the purple bins located at the County’s Convenience Centers.

Why is glass being separated from other recyclables?

The most efficient method of recycling glass is through a process where it is not combined with any other materials. With single-stream recycling (putting everything in one bin), materials are sorted at a material recovery facility (MRF), through a variety of processes and technologies. Due to the weight of glass, it is the material that remains after the paper, metal and plastic have been sorted out. This leftover “MRF glass” is too contaminated with other materials (bottle caps, plastic pieces, small bits of paper, etc.) to be recycled into new glass containers without further processing at a glass beneficiation plant, which there is not currently one in Virginia. Instead, “MRF glass” is typically used in fiberglass manufacturing, reflective paint and clothing production or reused for ADC (material other than soil used as an Alternative Daily Cover for landfills, a federal requirement).

Why is the glass being taken to O-I ?

The glass collected in the purple bins is taken to the O-I glass plant in Toano and recycled into new glass bottles and containers back on the shelf within 30 days!  This glass-only recycling program is possible due to investment made by O-I to purchase the purple bins. As a company, O-I wants to increase the amount of recycled glass in their products. As a token of their appreciation for citizen efforts, O-I makes a quarterly charitable donation through their GLASS4GOOD™ program to the United Way of the Virginia Peninsula (UWVP). UWVP invests the funds directly in JCC organizations, as part of their Pathways Out of Poverty mission.

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What Glass Can Be Recycled? 

Empty and rinsed glass food and beverage container glass of all colors can be placed in the purple bins, including glass bottles (alcohol and other beverages, oil, vinegar, soy sauce, etc.) and food jars (baby food, spaghetti sauce, pickles, olives, etc.). For sanitary purposes, please empty liquids and rinse out food residue. Remove lids, caps and corks. Paper labels are fine to leave on, as they will burn off in the recycling process. 

What Glass Cannot Be Recycled?

There are different types of glass, made with various chemical components, with distinct melting points. Glass products that cannot be recycled are glassware (drinking glasses), ceramics (porcelain and pottery), borosilicate glass (Pyrex/cookware and labware), light bulbs, mirrors, windows, sheet glass, fiberglass and any other glass product that is not a glass bottle or jar. 

JCC_Glass Bin Signage_Spanish Included

What Are the Benefits of Recycling Glass? 

  • Glass is infinitely recyclable without loss of quality, making it a permanent material that can continue to offset the need for raw materials as often as it is recycled. 
  • Recycled glass can be substituted for up to 95% of raw materials during production. 
  • No processing by-products — glass recycling is a closed-loop system, creating no additional waste.  
  • Recycling glass has big environmental pay offs. It saves raw materials, lessens demand for energy and cuts CO2 emissions. 
    • Over a ton of natural resources are conserved for every ton of glass recycled, including 1,300 pounds of sand, 410 pounds of soda ash, 380 pounds of limestone and 160 pounds of feldspar. 
    • Energy costs drop about 2-3% for every 10% cullet used in the manufacturing process. 
    • For every six tons of recycled container glass used, a ton of carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, is reduced. 

Renee Dallman, JCC Public Information Officer, Cassie Cordova, JCC Sustainability Coordinator, Kate Sipes, [former] JCC Assistant Director of Economic Development and Jim Nordmeyer, Vice President of Global Sustainability for O-I , the Glass-only Recycling program in James City County. 


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