A Closer Look At Windscreen Recycling: How It Works And Where It Goes
12 May 2023
These days, recycling is mainstream. It’s common to see sorted recycling bins in restaurants, homes and public spaces. There are now even local pay-back money schemes that give you cash when you return bottles and plastics.
Fortunately, many products these days can be made using these recycled materials.
But what about windscreen glass recycling?
One common question we get is, ‘Can you recycle windscreen glass?’. The answer is yes!
With the advancement in technology, recycling a windscreen is possible, and it’s surprising how it can be reused.
At O’Brien®, we replace thousands of windscreens annually and we are proud to say that we are always thinking of ways to provide sustainable solutions for windscreen repairs and replacement services.
We do this in two ways. Firstly, we always prefer to repair a chipped windscreen rather than replace it. After all, it is the greener choice. But, if we can’t fix that chip, then we work with local recycling manufacturers to try and reuse the materials to give your windscreen another purpose.
So, how do we recycle cracked windscreen glass? We thought we’d give you a run-down on what we are currently doing with one of our many recycling partners in Perth, WA.
Firstly, what makes windscreen glass different from other types of glass?
Windscreen glass is a type of “safety” glass because of how it responds to excessive amounts of force. Its ability to hold together after a car crash is due to an interlayer of polyvinyl butyral (PVB) that is fused together between two sheets of glass. This flexible clear interlayer is extremely strong and will hold the glass together on impact, rather than shatter.
Because of this, glass from windscreens needs to undergo additional processes to be recycled.
The recycling process with our Perth recycling partner
Due to the interlayer, windscreen glass recycling requires additional processes before the glass can be recycled and used for other purposes.
Here are the 4 steps taken to process damaged windscreen glass from our take at O’Brien® AutoGlass branches across Perth and surrounds:
- Our third-party recycling partners collect the windscreen glass from our Perth branches and distribution networks.
- It is then broken and separated from the interlayer that is pressed firmly between the two pieces of windscreen glass.
- Once the plastic interlayer has been removed, the glass is then put through a processor that grinds it down. A sieve then catches the plastic whilst the glass falls through onto a moving conveyor belt before being taken away to be crushed further into glass ‘cullet’ shards.
- Once glass cullet is produced from the original windscreen glass, it will then be sent to different manufacturers to be used to create new glass or glass-based materials such as:
- Road base
- Glass bottles
- Glass Jars
- Pool filters
- Insulation wool (or fibreglass)
The environmental impact of not recycling windscreens
Glass does not easily decompose, which is why we must start aiming to recycle as much of the materials we use as possible.
Although it is possible to recycle windscreens, the process isn’t as routine as recycling ordinary glass. That’s why we recommend to only replace your windscreen when we cannot repair it.
Fixing a chipped windscreen is by far the greener choice, plus it is faster and cheaper. It can be done in just 30mins using our trusted state-of-the-art technology.
Read our recent article here about why a chip repair is the greener choice.
What O’Brien® is doing to help the environment
At O’Brien®, we have a repair-first policy. This means if there is a chip in your windscreen, and we believe we can repair it, then we will always try this approach first by using our special resin and equipment. We recommend having the chip inspected by an O’Brien® vehicle glass technician as soon as possible after the damage occurs to improve the outcome of a chip repair.
We do more than just advocate for a repair over a replacement in our famous advertisements. Right across the country, our branches are focused on their environmental impact and what they can do to contribute to sustainability.
O’Brien® AutoGlass Branch Manager Lindsey Thompson, from the Rockingham branch in Perth, works with his team daily on keeping sustainability top of mind. He explains,
“I have been with O’Brien® Perth for 2.5 years and am proud of the company’s vision and initiatives on sustainability.
It’s great to see broken windscreens being used for other useful things, instead of going to waste. Here at O’Brien® we’re also proactive when it comes to other recycling such as timber, plastics, cardboard, and other material.
As a team we do all we can, and it is part of my weekly briefs with my team to report on the status and keep it top of mind.”
Let O’Brien® help save your windscreen, or at least help to give it another purpose. So next time you see road repairs or take a drink from your glass bottle or go for a swim in the pool, you could very well be interacting with a piece of glass that was once part of a windscreen.
If you’ve got a chip in your windscreen, don’t wait – call O’Brien® today
Remember, it doesn’t take much for a chip to turn into a crack. At O’Brien®, we replace thousands of windscreens every year, but a chip repair is faster, greener and cheaper.
So let us help with repairing your windscreen chip today, so you can be back on the road fast.
Call 1800 059 829 or book online today or click here to find an O’Brien® AutoGlass branch near you.