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Glass recycling strikes a chord with public

Post Time:Jun 22,2009Classify:Industry NewsView:417

SEBRING - The renewal of glass recycling has turned out to be a big hit with Highlands County residents.

The county recycling program began accepting glass bottles and other glassware again in mid March, after more than five years of not accepting glass products.

Through the end of last week, the county has picked up more than 59,000 pounds of glass from the 13 sites around the county with drop-off bins for recyclables.

Every pound of glass dropped into the recycling bins is going to become part of new asphalt surfaces on Highlands County roads.

Once enough glass has been collected, the county's solid waste department will hire a contractor to crush it into material that will be substituted for the sand and other fine aggregates used in the county's asphalt production.

"I really did expect a great response to starting glass recycling again," said Christy Reed, director of the county's recycling program. "From all the phone calls and letters we had been getting, we knew that many people wanted to be able to recycle glass again."

Even so, Reed said, the public's response to glass recycling has been even better than she anticipated.

"What we have found, in addition to the quantity of glass people are bringing in, is that the glass they're dropping off is extremely clean and usually has no contaminants in it."

That means people are rinsing out their soft-drink, beer, wine and other glass bottles and glass food jars before toting them to one of the county's drop-off recycling sites.

"We're very pleased with that," Reed said. "Why that is so important to us is from a staffing perspective."

If people were dropping off broken bottles, or bottles loaded with moldy drink residues, the county's cost for recycling glass would go up substantially.

"Cleaning broken glass is labor intensive and, if we had to do a lot of cleaning, it could also be a safety issue for the workers," Reed said.

Workers handling the processing of recycled glass include both county employees and 'work-release" workers supplied by the sheriff's office through the Community Maintenance Program. The program gives offenders a community-based alternative to jail.

Response to the glass recycling program has been good countywide, but is especially strong in several areas.

The No. 1 recycling site for glass is the Winn-Dixie/Sebring Square shopping center. Most of the recycled glass bins at the county's other recycling sites have had to be picked up only once, but crews have had to empty out the Winn-Dixie glass bins twice since mid March.

So far, Winn-Dixie has provided 16,880 pounds of used glass.

The next most popular glass recycling sites are: Sweet Bay Lake Placid, 9,780 pounds; Sweet Bay Sebring, 9,420 tons; and Lakeshore Mall in Sebring, 8,560 pounds.

Reed said two comments from residents have come to her office frequently since glass recycling was resurrected on March 11.

"People have been telling us that they're pleased with the signage at the glass bins because it answers all their questions," she said. "And many people have let us know they're very glad that we're recycling glass again."

Overall, recycling of all materials is growing in popularity, Reed said.

"People are more informed about the benefits of recycling now, and that helps them make good choices," she said.

Ken Wheeler, director of the county's solid waste department, said recycling glass for asphalt production will drop the cost of asphalt made at the county's plant. Located at the county landfill, the asphalt plant began production in October.


Source: http://www2.highlandstoday.comAuthor: shangyi

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