Shimmering glass mountains lay hidden deep inside Israeli desert


Deep in the heart of Israel's desert, shimmering mountains of glass dominate the landscape. Tiny shards, millions of them, are piled into rolling hills of green and brown. Some grow to be 50 feet high, spanning the length of a few soccer fields. This is the junkyard at Israel's only glass container factory, where broken glass awaits a new life.

Phoenicia Glass Works produces a million bottles and containers a day for beverage giants Coca Cola, Pepsi, and Heineken, as well as Israeli wineries and olive oil companies. Every day, about 300,000 bottles come out of the ovens with defects, and the factory grinds them into shards and piles them in a desert lot to be melted into new bottles.

About 250 employees keep the factory running 24 hours a day, every day of the year. They even work on Yom Kippur, Judaism's holiest day, when everything else in the country grinds to a halt. They can't turn off the ovens, because the molten glass lava will harden and clog them.

Recycled glass bottles from across the country are sent here and ground up, too, while sand, the basic ingredient of glass, is hauled in from a nearby desert quarry.

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