SEATTLE (Waste 360): The start of 2019 has brought important changes to municipal waste services across the country as they determine whether to eliminate or revamp curbside collection of glass for recycling.
In Mt. Lebanon, Pa., a suburb of Pittsburgh, the decision has been made to phase out the glass collection service. “The solid waste and recycling is collected contractually in our community, and the contractors that submitted bids for the new contract indicated that they would no longer accept glass in the recycling stream,” says Rudy Sukal, Public Works director.
In an explanation to residents, a notice posted on the Mt. Lebanon municipal website explains that Mt. Lebanon, along with 18 other South Hills Council of Governments municipalities, bid jointly for waste hauling, including recycling services, and the resulting contract led them to revise their services.
The municipality noted a couple of reasons for its policy change: the market for recycled glass has decreased and broken glass can contaminate the load. “Shattered glass embeds into other recyclable materials (such as cardboard or paper), making those other items unable to be recycled,” according to the Mt. Lebanon notice.
Glass diversion is still a concern for Mt. Lebanon. “We are working on alternatives to divert glass from the solid waste stream and provide our residents with a process for recycling it, but do not have that option in place at this time,” says Sukal.
Arlington County, Va., in the Washington, D.C., suburbs, is considering ending curbside glass recycling this year. No official decision has been reached on whether to end collection, but changes could be rolled out over the next couple of months, according to Shani Krulijac, solid waste operations manager with Arlington County.
For now, glass is included in the list of single stream recycled materials that are collected from single-family curbside customers. Multifamily residences and commercial businesses are expected to recycle glass as part of their single stream recycling, as well, says Krulijac, but the county may soon switch to a drop-off system rather than continue to collect the material.