Have you ever ordered a drink at a bar or restaurant and wondered what happened to the bottle it came in?
On the Las Vegas Strip, these bottles may end up as the facade for buildings when mixed with recycled cement, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
The material is known as Green Stone, and currently 200,000 pounds of it are being applied to the headquarters of Realm of Design, which manufactures Green Stone.
The other key players are Luxor and Mandalay Bay, which provide glass bottles from their bars and restaurants, and Evergreen Recycling, which collects and transports the glass.
While Green Stone actually costs more to manufacture than raw building materials, it provides a reuse for glass bottles that would otherwise need to be landfilled or shipped to recycling centers in other states.
According to the Review-Journal, Evergreen Recycling hopes that finding a local demand for the material would increase the likelihood that a glass processing plant is built in the area.
One of the other advantages of this process is that the glass bottles are essentially downcycled into sand, so there's not as much of a concern about the condition of the glass. While glass bottles can be recycled into new bottles in about a month, this process requires color separation and removal of any broken pieces, since you can't make new clear glass bottles with brown or green glass. That places more responsibility on recyclers and collectors of the material.
It's estimated that only 25 percent of glass is recycled in the U.S., and of that material 60 percent is downcycled instead of recycled into new glass bottles. A main obstacle toward increasing the amount of recycled glass is the availability of processing plants that will purchase the material from recycling programs.