The soundtrack of recycling glass

The crunch of glass rang through the air. Then the jarring scrap of a shovel dragging against the ground. Followed by the jingling of glass flung together. And again, the resounding crash of glass.

Over and over again, I stood there wincing against the sound as I watched a tan and leathery man scoop crushed glass around him and hurl them toward a giant mound of shattered bits.

Barely five feet away, another man was crouched on the ground, separating large panes of glass and mirror. The criteria was that it had to be whole to be easily recycled. What didn’t pass muster, he tossed into the pile for the first man to scoop. What he approved, he sliced it through the air like a frisbee into another pile.

Recycled glass 02

No masks, no eye glasses. The glass winked against the sun as a gentle wind picked up. I shuddered at the thought of glass powder entering one’s eyes, and stepped further back.

At which point, I bumped into another migrant worker, a woman who was packing up a large plastic sack of beer bottles. She separated a few bottles on the floor with ther feet, picked one to dump into the sack and with the other hand, examined an empty Great Wall wine bottle. I noticed she had taken off her gloves and her hands were red, puffy and had small cuts all over.

With a heave, she flung the bottle into yet another pile which exploded upon impact. She picked up another that once stored French Bordeaux, and said to me, “You want to have a go?” I nodded and flung it as far as a I could. Hearing the loud smash was rather cathartic, but the puffs of glass dust proved too much, and I hurried out of the scrap zone.

Recycled glass 03

May 2011


1 Comment

  • Reply May 30, 2011


    wow! is this in shanghai? i love how shanghai has all these hidden mischiefs about her and long to discover them layer by layer…

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