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Flagstaff glass recycled at last

Post Time:Oct 11,2013Classify:Industry NewsView:400

Where do you put that empty bottle after you’ve poured the last glass of wine or scraped the final dredges of tomato sauce into the pot?

 

If you’re like most Flagstaff residents, you simply throw the bottle into the trash.

 

But an announcement from the city this week might make many change their minds.

 

In a Facebook post, city officials announced that glass is no longer being crushed and spread on the landfill as cover. It is now headed to Phoenix and then on to Mexico to become new bottles.

 

Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean residents can just throw the glass into their green recycle bin.

 

But they can pay an extra $3.55 a month and have their glass picked up at curbside, knowing now they will actually be recycled into bottles again.

 

There’s been a lot of confusion over the years,” said city of Flagstaff community sustainability specialist McKenzie Jones. “People either thought their glass was being recycled and were upset that it wasn’t, or they thought it wasn’t (being recycled) and they were still upset about it.”

 

For years, a dedicated core of Flagstaff residents have collected bottles in bags and barrels and driven the dripping containers to drop-off locations around the city (see list).

 

A few hardcore recyclers take the glass to other states and redeem it for cash.

 

And a small but growing number of residents have elected to spend a few dollars a month to have the glass picked up curbside by the city from their homes.

 

COSTLY TO PULVERIZE

 

But a common refrain from residents has always been that it is simply not worth the time to separate glass from trash if it will just end up in the landfill anyway. Because there wasn’t a nearby glass recycler, waste managers say it was never cost-effective to ship the glass, so the city has used it as ADC — or Alternative Daily Cover.

 

To cut down on flies, rodents and windblown litter, the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality requires that landfills use a regular top-cover. Many town dumps use local dirt.

 

However, the Flagstaff area is dirt deficient, said Steve Bergeron, solid waste manager for the city of Flagstaff.

 

It would cost an enormous amount of money to truck dirt in,” he said.  “We try to keep our operational costs minimized because it keep the costs of curbside collection down,” Bergeron later said.

 

But the city has plenty of other sources of alternative cover without the crushed glass. The city has an agreement with SCA Tissue to collect its discarded paper pulp for that purpose.

 

At Norton Environmental, the glass was previously pulverized and then combined with the SCA pulp and other green waste before being spread atop the city’s trash.

 

The pulverized product wasn’t viable as a recycling material because the colored glass was mixed and it was too labor intensive to remove things like labels and bottle caps. Some locals picked up the crushed glass for use in landscaping or art projects, but the demand for the free product was light.

 

And even that process has been costly — about a thousand dollars a month to maintain the crusher, several thousand dollars in labor to pulverize the glass and then even more to truck the tractor trailers to the landfill.

 

For Norton Environmental, the only reason to reuse glass was because it was required in their contract. 

 

HAULED AWAY FOR FREE

 

Then, earlier this year, General Manager Ray Sellards said he was approached by Strategic Materials in Phoenix about taking Flagstaff glass to the Valley to be recycled. He was thrilled.

 

They offered to take the glass and haul it and it would cost us nothing to get rid of it,” Sellards said. “They’re not paying us, but it’s going to a better place than just the landfill.”

 

He said the company also approached other cities in northern Arizona that previously had struggled to deal with their glass.

 

Once processed in Phoenix, officials say the glass is now sent on to Mexicali, Mexico, to be rebottled by Fevisa, a Mexican company. There, Flagstaff glass will eventually become Corona, Budweiser and Coca-Cola bottles.

 

So residents reluctant to recycle might now have the incentive to stop throwing bottles away and spend the extra $3.55 a month for a third curbside can.

 

SEPARATE CURBSIDE CAN NEEDED

 

However, glass still can’t be thrown in with ordinary recycling.

 

Sellards says that the Norton Facility was not designed for recycling glass and glass included in ordinary recycle bins must be separated on conveyor belts, where it can harm workers and equipment.

 

The belts get cut up and people’s hands get cut up by broken bottles and sharp edges,” Sellards said.

 

The glass can still be dropped off directly at Norton Environmental at 1800 E. Butler Ave., or any of the longstanding glass collection sites around town.

 

The city of Flagstaff has also been offering curbside pickup in special blue containers since 2011 for an additional fee.

 

Since the city started doing curbside pickups, about 600 or 700 households have signed up for the subscription service. But that number still pales in comparison to the 17,000 residences with curbside trash pickup. Bergeron says that the city is also providing commercial glass pickup at businesses.

 

City officials weren’t completely clear on why they didn’t make the information public initially, adding that they weren’t certain about how the new deal would work out.

 

It’s hard to say, ‘Hey, we’re recycling,’ when half the town thinks you are already,” Jones said. “This was the big notification — initially we were making sure that it was going through and it was successful.”

 

Residents interested in adding curbside glass pickup can contact the City of Flagstaff Solid Waste office at 213-2110. The blue cans are picked up once a month on the same day as the scheduled bulky trash pickup for a neighborhood.

Source: http://azdailysun.com/news/local/flagstaff-glass-rAuthor: shangyi

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