Safelite AutoGlass announced it has recycled more than 1 million windshields in 2013.
Windshields are not commonly recycled because they are made from laminated glass, which is created using two sheets of glass with a clear resin interlay called Polyvinyl Butyral (PVB) between. The resin interlay keeps the glass together when damaged, but it is also difficult to separate the glass and inner plastic layers and re-purpose the PVB, according to company officials. Additionally, the logistics of returning windshields to a recycling plant are challenging.
However, in 2012, Safelite AutoGlass implemented its windshield recycling program in partnership with Shark Glass Recycling North America.
With Shark’s patented technology, the laminated glass from Safelite’s customers’ windshields is processed through a crusher, which separates the glass from PVB. Approximately 90 percent becomes “glass cullet,” which can then be recycled into a number of new products, including fiberglass insulation, while approximately 7 percent becomes PVB scrap, which is reprocessed into pellets and recycled into a number of new products, such as carpet backing, paint and primer, and other plastic products, officials explain.
Safelite currently has 70 percent of its locations returning damaged windshields and hopes to reach 100 percent in the near future.
“We believe our customers appreciate our efforts to recycle their damaged windshields,” says Tom Feeney, Safelite’s president and CEO. “We are proud to have reached this important milestone of recycling 1 million windshields—and counting—in 2013. We are also proud of the long list of ‘green’ business practices at our company, not just because our customers expect it, but because it’s the right thing to do.”