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Glass recycling could resume — for a hefty fee

Post Time:Sep 12,2013Classify:Industry NewsView:292

WATERLOO REGION — A Guelph factory would happily recycle glass from local blue boxes again — for an annual fee estimated at $84,000.


Unwilling to pay, regional government has chosen instead to dump 3,000 tonnes of glass that Ontario compels it to collect each year, spreading it on roads inside the landfill that eventually get buried.


Billed as a saving, the decision highlights recycling challenges, puts environmental benefits in the spotlight and raises questions about taxpayer costs.


"This story suggests that there are challenges to making recycling viable, and it is important to study whether there are policy changes that could help make recycling more economically attractive," said Jennifer Clapp, a University of Waterloo professor who studies environmental policy. She was disappointed to hear that glass goes into the landfill.


The Liberal government has proposed legislation to make producers more financially responsible for glass that contains their products. Regional councillors endorsed it this week in principle.


Glass from blue boxes is hard to recycle and can't be sold. Colours are mixed and can't be recycled into clear glass. There's paper, dirt, food waste and ceramics to be cleaned out and hauled to landfill.


"One coffee cup would contaminate a whole tonne of glass," said Scott Van Rooy, director of operations for Nexcycle, the firm that recycled glass from regional blue boxes at its Guelph facility. "Everybody's blue box material has degraded in quality."


Nexcycle would recycle regional glass again, charging taxpayers the current market fee of about $28 per tonne. "If the glass was cleaner I wouldn't charge that," Van Rooy said.


Ontario understands that blue boxes recycle glass poorly. That's why the Liberal government launched its own recycling program for wine and liquor bottles, effectively removing them from blue boxes.


Bottles are returned for deposits at Beer Stores and other outlets. Bottles are separated by colour there before glass goes to recyclers with almost no contamination. Glass is then recycled into new bottles or into fibreglass.


Ontario launched its glass recycling program in part to discourage the use of glass as road aggregate. The province argued that spreading crushed glass on roads provides little environmental benefit compared to recycling glass into a finished product.


"The glass bottle is really not being put forward to its best use and that's really what we're striving for with recycling," Brian Zeiler-Kligman explains. He's director of sustainability for Canada's National Brewers, which recycle Ontario wine, liquor and beer bottles.


Regional government stopped recycling glass in 2011 and claims $140,000 saved per year in gravel costs and recycling fees. Taxpayers are still on the hook for an estimated annual premium of $350,000 to collect glass in blue boxes rather than regular garbage.


Meanwhile Ontario counts glass spread on landfill roads as diverted waste, even though it's not diverted and is being used in a way the government found undesirable. Environment Minister Jim Bradley would not be interviewed to explain this.


"I'm not bothered by it," Regional Chair Ken Seiling said. He sees spreading glass on landfill roads as another form of recycling that saves gravel costs.

Source: http://www.therecord.com/news-story/4075027-glass-Author: shangyi

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