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Colored glass not trash in Walla Walla

Post Time:Dec 04,2009Classify:Industry NewsView:488

This year, however, Walla Walla revised its recycling program to allow residents to recycle any type of glass in Walla Walla, but not in their curbside recycling bins. Instead, glass must be brought to one of five special yellow containers located around town.

“[The collection bins] are the only way that we can provide a glass recycling program,” said Rick Dudgeon, the city’s sanitation supervisor. He added that the city’s shift to accepting colored glass was not very well publicized.

Walla Walla resident Jade Fenton leaves glass recycling out every week with her other recycleables, and says that it’s usually thrown in the trash.

“Sometime they pick it up. Maybe an eighth of the time,” she said.

According to the city’s Sustainability Coordinator, Melissa Warner, Walla Walla began managing recycling in May 2007. Prior to that, the Walla Walla Recycling Company oversaw curbside recycling collection and was able to collect and sort glass.

Marty Gehrke, who runs the Walla Walla Recycling Company, said that sorting glass at the curbside can be difficult and cause excessive wear to machinery, which makes it expensive. He added that, to his knowledge, the Walla Walla Recycling Company always collected colored glass when it handled curbside recycling.

“There’s always been a market for glass,” he said.

However, that market has fizzled of late. Glass brought in for recycling is crushed and used as road bed material in Walla Walla’s landfill, because it can’t be economically recycled anywhere else. All other materials recycled in Walla Walla are shipped to Portland, but glass is too heavy to make this economically feasible. China, the final destination of much of Walla Walla’s recycling after Portland, recently stopped accepting glass shipments.

“There really is not a re-purchase market for glass right now,” said Warner. “We’re looking at some other ideas for how to use it locally.”

Regardless of what the city does with their recycled glass, Whitman students can recycle all types of glass in dorms. Outhouse RA junior Hannah LaCroix said that they collect all colors of glass, which is picked up with their other recycling and taken to the Walla Walla Recycling Company. She was unsure why so many students are confused about whether or not colored glass can be recycled, and said the Outhouse sends out guidelines for recycling at the beginning of the semester to all RAs.

Word that Walla Walla recycles colored glass had not reached Adams’ off-campus apartment.

“As an upper-class student, I haven’t felt like [the Outhouse] has given any advertisement of what’s recyclable in town,” he said.

Although the current glass recycling system might be difficult for some residents, it is unlikely to change in the near future because of economic concerns.

“If you’re a recycler, [the bin system] is not a good thing,” Gehrke said. “If you’re a businessperson, then it is.”

Source: whitmanpioneer.comAuthor: shangyi

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