Some haulers aren’t accepting glass any longer because it has become less cost-effective to recycle it. Recycling is a for-profit industry that relies on the ability to sell reclaimed materials at a profit. When it doesn’t pay to recycle a given material, Material Recovery Facilities (MRFs) will often stop accepting it.
There are two material characteristics that work against glass’s recyclability:
1. Glass is fragile
Certain types of glass (like Pyrex and window glass) aren’t recyclable, so when glass breaks prior to being sorted at the MRF, it often must be discarded to ensure there is no contamination with potentially incompatible types of glass. Recycled mixed broken glass can find applications in some industries, such as insulation and water filtration, but because all the different types of glass are blended together, the quality is low and can’t be used for more in-demand applications such as beverage bottle production.
2. Glass is heavy
Weight is an issue because it increases transportation costs and emissions. This is compounded by the fact that there are very few glass recycling centers around the country. The result is long, costly trips transporting glass from MRF to recycler.
In addition to the material characteristics that are working against glass being recycled, single-stream recycling is also making glass more expensive to recycle.
According to Glass Recycling Institute, curbside-recycling programs can generate high participation and gather large quantities of glass, but drop-off and commercial recycling programs yield higher-quality materials. This is in part because drop-off centers often require bottles to be sorted by color when you drop them off. Markets for recycled glass are narrow and often only the highest quality glass can be sold for a profit. In some markets, recycling centers actually have to pay to get rid of their materials!
If your neighborhood is no longer recycling glass curbside, do not put it in your recycling bin anyway and hope for the best. Contact your hauler and find out if there are any alternatives for glass recycling in your area. Go online and find a local drop-off center that you can bring your glass to. In addition to public works centers, many grocery stores still have recycling machines in their vestibules. If you have no reasonable options for recycling your glass bottles, find a clever reuse for them around the house. Glass bottles and jars make attractive vessels for fresh flowers and don’t distract the eye.
If recycling glass becomes impossible for you, consider switching your purchase practices. Recycling food and beverage packaging is high on our list of to-dos because we use so much of it. The ideal is to purchase what you can of your food in bulk, with as little disposable packaging as possible, which (bonus!) is often a more cost-effective way to go. This means those glass tomato-sauce jars can turn out to be the perfect containers to store rice, flour, beans, and other foodstuffs. Metal containers and recyclable plastics come second and third, respectively.
Recyclebank April 02 2018
Learn about residential curbside recycling in Fort Lauderdale
Abandoned, Dirty, Lifeless: Is This the Future?
By Keep it Local, Florida
It’s the year 2805. The earth is abandoned and covered with trash. There’s no sign of life apart from a cockroach and a robotic trash compactor dutifully organizing our centuries of waste.
[Quote: Pixar gets the future all wrong...]
Is this the future? No. It’s the opening scene of Pixar’s WALL-E. Pixar gets the future all wrong—that is, if the city of Kissimmee has anything to say about it.
“We’re bringing a cleaner, greener, safer, healthier alternative to solid waste containment and collection to the U.S.,” said Jay Wheeler, owner of Underground Refuse Systems and one of the many innovators bringing the future to a Florida town near you. In this case, it’s Kissimmee.
His futuristic trash system is no flying car. Still, it looks like something out of the Jetsons and it’s solving problems both minute and complex. It all started with space.
“We had an issue in our downtown area regarding space for dumpster enclosures,” said Kerrith Fiddler, Kissimmee’s director of Public Works and Engineering. Wheeler’s Underground Refuse System addressed that issue, he added.
[Kissimmee’s Underground Refuse System is solving problems both minute and complex.]
Wheeler’s system replaces dumpsters with manufactured underground stationary containers, which saves the city valuable parking space. But the system also happens to beautify the city and renders trash stormproof. The crane automated procedure that trucks use to empty the containers saves labor. The sensor technology that monitors fill levels creates more efficient pick-up routes. Noxious odors? Neutralized. Animals? Locked out.
Wheeler also pointed out that underground refuse poses less of a health risk to homeless populations: “Contaminated dumpster food can send a homeless person to the Emergency Room at the expense of the city and taxpayer.”
If we’re going to save the world from Pixar’s dystopian vision of a planetary dumpster, we have to start somewhere. Why not locally? The city of Kissimmee is doing just that and according to Fiddler: “the residents and business owners who have seen or used the system, love it.”
For more information about sustainable issues go to the City of Fort Lauderdale