[RFC] tagging glass recycling

I was using Street Complete and noticed there was no ‘quest’ for specifying the colour of glass which could be recycled at a recycling point.
I opened an issue - #5120 and it was highlighted that there doesn’t seem to be any consensus on how to tag this, which brought me here!

See - Search results | OpenStreetMap Taginfo

There seem to be two main ways to tag colour: recycling:glass_bottles:colour = ... or recycling:glass_green = yes etc.

There’s a second related issue of glass vs glass_bottles vs glass_jars. In my experience in the UK I have only ever seen ‘glass’ recycling with no distinction made on the ‘shape’ of the glass, bottle, jar or otherwise.

I think my preference would be to use:
recycling:glass = yes
recycling:glass_green = yes
recycling:glass_white = no
recycling:glass_brown = no

I think this is the simplest and least ambiguous of any option.
On my second point of bottles/jars etc. I would add to the above tags:
recycling:glass_bottles = yes
recycling:glass_jars = no etc.


I’d suggest sticking with the recycling: prefix scheme rather than using new keys.

So recycling:glass:colour= seems the most sensible option to me.

I assume “white” is actually “clear”? I can’t recall ever actually seeing a “white” glass bottle or jar. It’s also been a long time since I’ve seen colour separated glass recycling in the UK too.


Also, it’s worth noting the following on the Wiki definition:

Note that recycling containers labelled glass often are supposed to be used for solely soda–lime glass, what excludes nearly all “tricky” glass and should be tagged with recycling:glass_bottles rather than this.

So are you sure recycling:glass_bottles:colour=* doesn’t actually fit your needs? It seems like it covers jars as well as bottles.


Sorry, that was a typo on my part! I’ve updated my original post.

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You didn’t update it everywhere, it is still confusing.

I think it is important to mark if you can dispose large glass items - sized like a room mirror.

It would be useful to recommend list of “primary” colours. What about some catch-all value?

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Did you discuss Europe-spanning changesets like this one somewhere?


I’d heavily prefer ‘clear’.
At least in Switzerland, proper colored glass (white) is not allowed in our recycling containers, only clear glass bottles and jars, clear glass tinted green and clear glass tinted brown, where green and brown are most often beer bottles.


Thanks for bringing that up! I’d indeed advise @Moohan and others against such mass-editing already, especially as whose of this discussion is about only 13h old and majority of the community has not even had time to even read it (much less give their opinion).

While one may indeed add new data using those newly-invented tags according to ATYL policy even after such short discussion (or even without it!) for new objects surveyed and mapped by oneself, for such automated mass-edits (which also include “substantial changes made using ‘find and replace’ or similar functions within standard editors such as JOSM.”) one must follow much stricter Automated Edits code of conduct.

In any case it would be best to allow at least a week or two for discussion, and then document new tags on the wiki, and only then start using them for mapping new objects (and maybe proceed with steps in Automated Edits code of conduct, if such mass-editing is desired)

Large glass items are handled separately purely due to thier size. Mirrored items usually have special handling requirements because of the material used to create the mirrored effect.

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There really is a difference between clear glass and “white” (sometimes called “milky”) glass. There is even a distinction between what is often called “clear glass” (even though it often has a slight greenish tinge due to iron oxide and other “impurities”) and what is known as “low iron glass,” which is much closer to a “true clear” glass (no greenish or very little colored tinge). And, yes, mirrors are treated totally separately by glass recyclers.

I like @Casey_boy 's suggested syntax of recycling:glass:colour= to distinguish, though while “green” and “brown” are obvious values for this key, what wouldn’t be obvious are distinctions between “clear” (looks clear, but has that greenish tinge) and “truly clear” (as in low iron). I’m aware that at mechanized glass recycling plants, optical separation between “the big three” (green, brown, clear) is often done, what isn’t obvious is whether a further distinction is made between “looks clear” (but greenish) and “truly clear” (low iron) by the optical sorting process, as this distinction can be subtle.

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Most recycling containers in my area collect three different colours.



I suppose what I meant more was: “clear” is not being widely used as a “colour” in any of the current tagging whereas “white” is very common relatively speaking (e.g., [1]). Yet, purely anecdotally, “clear” glass seems to be much more commonly used than “white” glass for glass bottles and jars.

I wonder, therefore, if “clear” is in fact being tagged as “white”? Or is it that mappers don’t consider “clear” to be a colour? Which I understand but perhaps it should be for tagging purposes?

I suppose what I meant more was: “clear” is not being widely used as a “colour” in any of the current tagging whereas “white” is very common relatively speaking (e.g., [1]).

maybe it is relevant to know that „Weissglas“ in German means clear glass as opposed to „Klarglas“ (clear glass) which is also clear glass but with some greenish touch (less pure). Containers in Germany are green, brown and white. https://www.abfallberatung-unterfranken.de/image_db/detail/e45823afe1e5120cec11fc4c379a0c67.jpg

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Apologies, that edit was obviously inspired by this thread but thought of it as more of a ‘cleanup’ than a change. i.e. cleaning up the less used ‘clear’ into the more commonly used ‘white’.

I didn’t find any examples where clear and white were tagged on the same recycling centre or bin, so I thought this was an obvious case of two tags being used to mean the same thing.

To me, if someone said clear or white glass I would assume they meant the same, I would probably use clear if pushed but the recycling I was thinking of is usually coloured white / green / brown so I thought it was reasonable.

Apologies again, I didn’t think / realise the size or content of the change would be controversial. I’m happy to revert it or have someone revert it.

Is this distinction usually made at a public facing recycling point? If not, then I think we’re probably splitting hairs and “clear” would be fine for either.

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To summarise people’s thoughts so far:

It seems the preferred option is to use:

recycling:glass:colour= with values of clear (or white?), green and brown.

This would replace the current usage of recycling:glass_green=yes etc.

There are also comments around other items, e.g. mirrors, would the current recycling:glass_bottles = yes plus a recycling:glass_mirrors = yes seem like a sensible way to address this?

Definite questions around the difference between ‘clear’ and ‘white’ and if/how that matters at a recycling centre and then how it should be tagged.

It seems the preferred option is to use:

recycling:glass:colour= with values of clear (or white?), green and brown.

there should be something like „all“ or „mixed“ as well

For what it’s worth. recycling:glass_clear=yes had 46 a couple of days ago and recycling:glass_white=yes has 114. Both are very small numbers, and taginfo finds other usage as well.

Does white actually mean clear for glass in some non-British dialect of English? A web search from the UK for white glass finds it mostly used for glass that is actually white, not clear. OSM uses British English most of the time, except where it might cause confusion (e,g, sidewalk).

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I’d be a fan of the semicolon separator use. recycling:glass:colour=yes (to indicate there’s separate holes for the various but you don’t know the colours exactly. If known, recycling:glass:colour=white;green;clear; other;*.

Makes it easy to formulate as a Custom preset in JOSM with a multiselect list.

Saw this questioning often in StreetComplete and other QA’s about ‘surely only bottles?’ without asking if it could be bulkier as a 1,5 and 5 litre wine bottle is quite common which would not fit in the standard holes.

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I think the confusion is perhaps around translations rather than English dialects?

For example, for colour separated glass recycling points, the containers may match the allowed colour of glass. This is fine for green and brown. But “clear” glass is often deposited inside “white” containers, e.g.,

As @dieterdreist notes Weissglas/Weißglas has a literal translation of “white glass” but actually means clear glass and, as above, is put in a white container.

This Dutch example:

Has a “wit bij wit” hole - which Google translate (and a relatively easy guess) tells me the literal translation is “white by white”. But is this actually truly "white"glass or instead is it “clear” glass?

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