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Glass recycling bagged in Anchorage as a result of economic downturn

Post Time:Dec 30,2008Classify:Industry NewsView:370

A downturn in the economy, which has left businesses scrambling for markets, will send up to 150 tons of glass a month straight

to the Anchorage dump, rather than recycling bins, beginning on Jan. 5.

Recyclers are being asked to immediately refrain from bringing glass, and to dispose of all glass containers with their trash. Glass

drop-off containers at the Anchorage Recycling Center off Dowling Road, the Anchorage Regional Landfill and at Brown Jug

Warehouse on Old Seward Highway will be removed Jan. 5.

The decision came Dec. 18 from Alaskans for Litter Prevention and Recycling, with the Municipality of Anchorage Solid Waste

Services. The primary reason given for the shutdown was a significant decrease in demand for the end product. “This coupled with

high production costs, especially in the winter, has caused the local glass plant to conclude that it is not economical to take

more glass at this time,” Jeanne Carlson, recycling coordinator for the municipality.

“We haven't given up on glass,” she said. “This is a temporary thing. On the local level, it is a matter of finding markets that bring

in more money than it costs to process the glass.”

Carlson said 140 tons to 150 tons of glass are recycled monthly in Anchorage, with 90 percent of it dropped off by individuals at

recycling center. Since the halt in glass recycling was announced, emails and phone calls have started coming in from individuals

and companies interested in using the glass for everything from an ingredient in asphalt to a growing medium for hydroponics, she

said.

There are other opportunities being explored for using the glass and hopefully those will come to fruition by spring, according to

Mary Fisher, executive director of ALPAR.

“People really want to recycle glass and are being very conscientious about it, and that drives ALPAR and the city to find

opportunities,” Fisher said. Glass is very usable, but very expensive to process and haul because of its nature. We're going to find

some good uses for this glass. We just have to get all the stars aligned in a way to make this affordable. I've already talked with

one company that is interested in possibly using the glass for countertops.”

There has been some discussion about charging a fee for recycling glass, but that would be difficult because recycling glass has

always been free, she said. It would also require an infrastructure to monitor the program and collect the money.

So come Jan. 5, people will have to pay to dump glass, adding to the trash volume, but fees paid to dump will add to revenues

used to operate the dump, she said.

Fisher said glass would be collected through the holidays to give residents sufficient notice to stop saving glass. “We find no other

reasonable alternatives at hand other than to stop the flow of glass until the market recovers and the economics improve,” she

said.

ALPAR made the decision to close glass collection after consulting with EK Industries, which owns the glass plant; Alaska

Waste, Smurfit-Stone Recycling and the municipality's solid waste services. All parties are actively working to explore new

options for viable glass recycling and reuse in Alaska, according to ALPAR and municipal officials.

“We are committed to exploring new opportunities for glass recycling that are sustainable long-term. One of the keys will be

finding stable markets for the end product,” Fisher said.

Source: AlaskaJournal.comAuthor: shangyi

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