There used to be a time when glass bottles were a thing of value. Generations of kids across America remember making a little extra money cashing in glass bottles to recycle. But that little piece of Americana has gone by the wayside and glass bottles have become virtually worthless to collection agencies.
Starting Oct. 1, Waste Management will no longer be accepting glass containers as part of its Ellensburg curbside recycling program. Kittitas County will also stop accepting glass as recyclable at the local transfer stations. Glass has been an ongoing challenge for recyclers across the U.S. and is no longer accepted in your curbside cart for a variety of reasons.
“We were taking the glass bottles collected to mills in Seattle and Portland, but they’ve cut off taking in anymore glass. The cost to transport glass, sort it, and transport it again to a mill is costly,” said Tammy Yager with Waste Management. “It comes down to the fact we don’t have a another place to take the glass bottles once we collect them.
“We will continue to take plastic bottles, but no glass at all.”
According to the Waste Management website, glass is low in value because it competes with an inexpensive raw resource (sand). The industries that have historically purchased recycled glass include the bottling and insulation industry. Both have decreased their demand due to inexpensive raw resources and low energy rates.
It cites that glass is expensive to collect, process and transport and that glass shards can contaminate other recyclables like paper and cardboard, which is no longer acceptable by mills.
Times have changed since the “Bottle Bill” was introduced in 1971 when Oregon introduced a refundable deposit, a nickel, on beer and soda bottles as an incentive to recycle.
In 1995, according to RESOURCECentere, Americans recycled a record 47.6 billion soft drink containers, an increase of 500 million over the previous year There were more than 10,000 recycling centers nationwide and at least 4,000 curbside collection programs. U.S. collection grew from 1.2 billion cans in 1972 to more than 62 billion cans in 1995 through curbside recycling programs.
Slogans like “Think Green” have now given way to “When in doubt, throw it out.” For questions on what is and is not acceptable as part of Waste Management’s curbside customer service, visit http://wmnorthwest.com/ellensburg/recycling.html.