Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The Glass is Always Greener....

by Robert Eugley, Owner
Mirror Shower & Glass
Miramar Glass & Mirror
ASID Industry Partner

I’ve spent the last 27 years in the glass industry, and, to be perfectly blunt, my industry has done little to promote recycling and even less to promote the use of sustainable products. If there is a bright light anywhere, it is our solid track record in creation of new energy efficient products.
Insulated glass units with low emissivity (low e) coatings on the glass have done wonders to reduce the use of energy and eliminate ultraviolet damage to interiors.  However, the seals on insulated glass units typically fail after 15 - 20 years and have created a new waste stream that didn’t exist before, whereas the single-glazed window glass that dual-glazed units have replaced was a permanent product, aside from breakage.

The window systems that house the glass have been redesigned with more efficient materials that reduce transmission of heat and cold. Solar energy collection is dependant upon the glass industry for the creation of high performance glass that allows absorption of tremendous heat without failing. Without that advance, the future of solar energy collection would have been severely limited. Recently, the industry has introduced shading systems that augment the work done by energy efficient glass systems.

Recycling is where the glass industry is at its weakest. Glass is recycled only at the wholesale level of production because this is the only time when the glass contains no contaminants and the waste is of sufficient volume to warrant collection. At the local level, recycling of waste aluminum is profitable enough to attract most shop owners. Shower doors, window frames and storefront systems can be cleaned up and readied for collection at a modest profit.

At our shop, there are an additional nine items that are collected and either deposited at the office recycling bin or taken to local collection centers, including computers and accessories, paper, cardboard, plastic T-shirt bags, beverage containers, tin foil and various plastics . What we do is still too little and we are constantly searching for ways to improve.

I’m a firm believer that, as a planet, we are grossly overpopulated and, since that problem shows no sign of correction, we had better conserve our resources, reduce the waste stream and aggressively seek more environmentally sound ways to live our lives.

Bob Eugley is owner of Mirror Shower & Glass, www.MirrorShowerAndGlass.com, an ASID Industry Partner. He can be reached at Bob@MirrorShowerAndGlass.com.