Although glass is one of the most easily recycled materials, more recycled content should be used in the creation of new glass products. Manufacturers of glass containers aim to incorporate 50 percent recycled material in new bottles by next year, however, with notable benefits. According to the Glass Packaging Institute, "using 50% recycled glass to make new glass containers would save enough energy to power 21,978 homes for one year and remove 181,550 tons of waste from landfills every month."
Typically, the origins of recycled container glass are not detectable in new products. However, the Japanese design studio Nendo has developed a second life for Coca-Cola bottles, retaining the imprint of its manufacturer's mark. The new line of tableware, called Bottleware, is made of the distinct green glass of original Coke bottles. Nendo has embellished each piece with the subtle, recognizable embossed pattern on its bottom surface.
The set of products is a compelling example of visible chain-of-custody, since no papers need accompany the new materials to prove their origin. It also represents a positive example of functional upcycling, as one would hope to use Bottleware for a much longer duration than the short life of a soft drink.
Blaine Brownell is a regularly featured columnist whose opinion stories appear on this website each week. His views and conclusions are not necessarily those of ARCHITECT magazine nor of the American Institute of Architects.