Safelite AutoGlass reaches windshield recycling milestone

Safelite AutoGlass reaches windshield recycling milestone

Company diverted 1.76 million windshields from landfill in 2016.

January 11, 2017
Recycling Today Staff

Columbus, Ohio-based Safelite AutoGlass, a provider of windshield replacements, has announced it has reached a windshield recycling milestone with 1.76 million windshields recycled in 2016.

The company says this milestone has surpassed the number of windshields recycled in 2015, and brings the total collected since the windshield recycling program’s inception in 2012 to 6 million.

“We believe our customers appreciate our efforts to recycle their damaged windshields,” says Tom Feeney, Safelite AutoGlass’ president and CEO. “We are proud to have recycled more than 6 million windshields since 2012. 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.”

Safelite says it is the only vehicle glass company with a widescale windshield recycling program. Windshields are not commonly recycled, the company says, because they are made from laminated glass, which is created using two sheets of glass with a clear resin interlay, polyvinyl butyral (PVB), between. It is the resin interlay that keeps the glass together when damaged, but it also is difficult to separate the glass and inner plastic layers and repurpose the PVB, the company explains. Additionally, the logistics of returning windshields to a recycling plant are challenging.

However, in 2012, Safelite AutoGlass implemented its windshield recycling program thanks to a partnership with Shark Glass Recycling North America, Lavonia, Georgia. With Shark’s patented technology, the laminated glass from Safelite’s customers is processed through the crusher, which separates the glass from PVB. Approximately 90 percent becomes 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. 

The logistics of collecting the damaged windshields and shipping to the recycling plant were designed to be carbon neutral, using existing freight lanes within the supply chain returning to Safelite’s East Coast distribution center. For this reason, Safelite says it currently has 70 percent of its locations returning damaged windshields and the goal to reach 100 percent in the near future.