Should we smash the bottles in a bottle bank to make more room?

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Richard Pitt

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Richard Pitt  asked the Naked Scientists:
   Hi Dr Chris,
My name is Richard and I live in Moseley in Birmingham.
At my local supermarket there is a bottle bank and I have always gotten a certain amount of destructive frisson from putting my used glass through the opening and throwing it down with some force so that I can hear it smash. Often, of course, the jar or bottle will not break because I guess it is too tough or it can't travel far enough given the existing level in the bank.
This got me to thinking about why the bottles should be intact (apart from my donations) as this will take up a greater volume of space and will certainly be less cost efficient for each load taken away. Just to check I have looked through the aperture for bottles on a number of occassions and yes the majority of the bottles are still complete.
So if it hasn't been done before my idea is to have a lever which when raised opens the aperture to the bank and the bottle is inserted. Let go of the lever and a weight with hardened points on it smashes the bottle to buggery. Alternatively, you could have a device that is like a pin ball table so that the bottle is inserted and a spring will then shoot the bottle against a hard surface and smash it.
Either way, you will be able to get a greater volume of glass in the bank per collection.
Have I saved the planet? Will I win a Nobel prize? Or do you think that I should spend less time thinking to myself and get out a bit more often? Whatever, would love to hear from you,
Best regards,

What do you think?
« Last Edit: 08/09/2011 16:01:05 by _system »


Offline CliffordK

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It used to be that soda bottles were washed and re-used.  That practice has virtually stopped in the USA, except perhaps for a few small custom breweries or bottling plants.

The biggest risk would be for broken glass to fly back up at you.  If the risk to yourself (or anybody handling the glass) is non-existent (nothing escaping the bin, or falling on the floor), then you are probably ok.

Also, keep in mind that you may be required to sort the glass.  Brown glass in a batch of clear might not be good, and will likely have to be picked out by hand.

At some point, all the glass will be crushed at the recycling facility, or perhaps the one collecting and transporting it.