thrown into single-stream recycling collections actually gets recycled. By continuing to use this site you are agreeing to our COOKIE POLICY. When it doesn’t pay to recycle a given material, Material Recovery Facilities (MRFs) will often stop accepting it. BREAKING: Everything we know about the COVID-19 coronavirus. When it comes to glass recycling, there’s container glass … and everything else. In addition, common soda-lime cullet made from bottles and jars isn’t compatible with window glass and the type of fiberglass used in reinforced composites, further limiting recycling opportunities. But most municipalities in the US stick with single stream because the collection costs are lower than those with multistream systems. US municipalities manage residential recycling primarily via single-stream curbside collection. Picking up the pieces of US glass recycling. Related: Stiff-yet-supple plastic can be reshaped and recycled. The US glass-recycling shortfall comes down to the interplay between the quality and availability of cullet and the economics of making glass, he explains. But sometimes solving a problem requires grabbing the bull by the horns. Finally, in Europe, “recycling is the cultural and social norm,” Nordmeyer says. Eventually, they did put up glass recycling centers around the county. Glass is infinitely recyclable without loss in quality. Dear Helen: Some haulers aren’t accepting glass any longer because it has become less cost-effective to recycle it. “Glass is 100% recyclable,” says Robert Weisenburger Lipetz, executive director of the Glass Manufacturing Industry Council (GMIC), a nonprofit trade association. Sixty-six percent of discarded paper and cardboard was recycled, 27 percent of glass, and 8 percent of plastics were recycled. Most of it ends up in the trash. This is compounded by the fact that there are very few glass recycling centers around the country. Believe it or not, bright paper can stop a whole batch of paper from being … The U.S. recycling industry is overwhelmed — it can't keep up with the plastic being churned out. The problem’s not that glass isn’t recyclable. This type of collection requires a high level of consumer education and is considerably more expensive than single-stream collection. To switch to multistream systems, these municipalities would need to introduce taxes or fees to meet the higher collection and handling costs. How to Recycle Glass. One significant difference between the US and European nations is size. Unfortunately, the cities and counties affected have no choice in the matter, because there are no longer any local … “We are a ready and willing customer for increased output from consumer recycling,” O’Brien-Bernini says, but the economics of producing cullet aren’t always favorable for would-be suppliers. Metal containers and recyclable plastics come second and third, respectively. Title: Why glass recycling in the US is broken. This change applies to county collection customers and private haulers. I go to MO or OK several times a year and have been known to take my glass with me and my friends recycle it for me. Glass can be recycled endlessly by crushing, blending, and melting it together with sand and other starting materials. However, some recycling center may still accept it, so you can check with a recycling center near you. Chemical & Engineering News will not share your email address with any other person or company. of glass is disposed of every year in the US. 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. In addition to public works centers, many grocery stores still have recycling machines in their vestibules. Has your community stopped collecting glass? Transporting glass waste and cullet is costly because of their weight, and those costs can be a deal breaker for some glassmakers and can prevent would-be cullet suppliers from opening processing facilities. So one key factor that stands in the way of the US glass industry’s ability to boost recycling numbers is the limited availability of satisfactory cullet produced via single-stream processing. Doing so benefits manufacturers, the environment, and consumers. First things first, not all colors of glass can be recycled together. “There are many reasons why more glass isn’t recycled in the US,” says David Rue, an engineer at the Gas Technology Institute near Chicago who recently completed a yearlong study of US glass recycling as a consultant for GMIC. No longer must we labor. These efforts begin with a top-to-bottom analysis of glass recycling to identify areas for improvement. When glass goes into a landfill, it is not harming the environment or atmosphere. Recycling food and beverage packaging is high on our list of to-dos because we use so much of it. Thank you for sharing Brenda. aggregate. Join us to get the news you need. Chemistry matters. put into multistream collections gets recycled. Because of the difference in the quality of glass from the two streams, just 40% of glass from single-stream collection ends up being recycled into new products, compared with about 90% of glass from multistream systems. US glass-industry trade groups are working with manufacturers and government agencies to boost the numbers. Mauro is a materials scientist and glass specialist who spent nearly 20 years at the glassmaker Corning. Renew your membership, and continue to enjoy these benefits. Markets for recycled glass are narrow and often only the highest quality glass can be sold for a profit. Discount will be applied automatically at checkout. There is debate about how safe or unsafe it is to reuse plastic due to the leaching of chemicals, but glass can be reused endlessly until you are ready to recycle it. Glass is ending up in the trash As of Jan. 1, many recycling companies no longer accept glass and certain plastics. “We were disturbed to hear about the decision by this recycling center to no longer accept glass," Crane said. It provides many benefits to glass manufacturing. When it doesn’t pay to recycle a given material, Material Recovery Facilities (MRFs) will often stop accepting it. Garbage, like those products, contaminates all the recyclables in the bin, Nordmeyer says. This gives glass the best chance to be sorted effectively and thus recycled into quality products that can be recycled again, retaining the value of the glass material, rather than being down-cycled into products that most likely won’t be recycled again. Or does it require labor intensive, manual sorting? Credit: Owens-Illinois Glass can be recycled endlessly by crushing, blending, and melting it together with sand and other starting materials. All Rights Reserved. Recycling in the U.S. is broken. And depending on how the US recycles, that processing is done relatively inefficiently compared with what happens in Europe. RTS Recyclebank partners with cities and brands to reward residents for helping to make their communities cleaner, greener places. While you may think the recycling bin is the next step for your leftover glass, recycling colored glass is not as simple as one might think. It's a shame if any glass container uses up landfill space because glass lasts forever. That’s what Boulevard Brewing did about 10 years ago. In 1960, Americans generated 2.68 pounds of garbage per day; by 2017, it had grown to an average of 4.51 pounds. If you have no reasonable options for recycling your glass bottles, find a clever reuse for them around the house. Most of the efforts to boost glass-recycling rates in the US have been state and local affairs. Distances in the US between a materials recovery facility and a cullet supplier, or a cullet supplier and a buyer tend to be greater. And North Carolina enacted an on-premise recycling bill that requires alcoholic-beverage-permit holders to recycle bottles and cans. A recycled glass bottle is no less durable than one made of raw materials. I live in Phoenix too. I’m thinking about buying a glass cruiser. Today, recycling managers are facing new pressure as commodity prices have dropped. This means that food-grade glass can be recycled … Weight is an issue because it increases transportation costs and emissions. Good to know about this. Glass that is crushed and ready to be remelted is called cullet. The laws are having the intended effect. By submitting your information, you are gaining access to C&EN and subscribing to our weekly newsletter. Crushed glass, or cullet, is used throughout glass manufacturing and is key to glass recycling. Glass is easy to recycle, but not in a single bin with paper and plastic. The alternatives are to reuse glass containers or bring to one of 21 glass-only recycling centers. It was single stream, and apparently broken glass, would jam up their processing equipment. The result is long, costly trips transporting glass from MRF to recycler. If the spreadsheet permits, I think a portable cullet maker could serve several rural counties, a worthwhile multi-community enterprise (and social experiment). China is no longer taking the world's waste. In some markets, recycling centers actually have to pay to get rid of their materials! Yet each year only one-third of the roughly 10 million metric tons of glass that Americans throw away is recycled. Recycling is a for-profit industry that relies on the ability to sell reclaimed materials at a profit. Can this be done with automated equipment? But even if the US shifted more to multistream collection, there are other economic factors standing in the way of increasing glass-recycling rates to European levels. Will efforts like these local and state ones bump up recycling rates across the US? Fairfax County is making a change this week by asking residents to keep glass out of curbside recycling. This article has been sent to the following recipient: Copyright © 2020 American Chemical Society. Another factor helping Europe maintain high recycling rates is high landfill costs, which make trashing glass in those countries more expensive than recycling. Can anyone tell me if there are other uses for recycled glass? Is the color of the glass important? It never wears out as a raw material, so old bottles and jars can be remanufactured into new glass containers over and over and over again. I try to make a trip over there once a month or so. For example, 10 states have passed so-called bottle bills that require consumers to pay deposits on beverage bottles. Recycling is a for-profit industry that relies on the ability to sell reclaimed materials at a profit. “In the US, we tend to teach to the test, and recycling isn’t on the test,” he says. 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. The Kansas City, Missouri–based beer maker bemoaned the absence of an active local recycling program, which meant that millions of its empty beer bottles were ending up in landfills. If your neighborhood is still accepting glass, consider yourself lucky. Charlotte company no longer recycling plastic due to global crisis. We use the information you provide to make your reading experience better, and we will never sell your data to third party members. He explains that melting cullet doesn’t release carbon dioxide or other gases that can form unwanted trapped bubbles in the glass. People also tend to throw in a lot of things that shouldn’t go in the bin, such as plastic bags, batteries, light bulbs, soiled food containers, used napkins, and what Nordmeyer and others call “wish-cycling” materials. Glass Containers No Longer Accepted in Curbside Recycling Program To improve the quality of single-stream recycling, we will no longer accept glass bottles and jars in curbside recycling bins effective Oct. 1. “Large quantities of high-quality cullet are essential to further increase the recycled content in our products,” says Frank O’Brien-Bernini, vice president and chief sustainability officer for Owens Corning, a major fiberglass manufacturer. Looking for suggestions. Donate usable luggage, or try to find a luggage-drive run by local travel agencies. And most municipalities are reluctant to do so. Optical sorting machines have been around for a few years now.
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