The Waste Biz: Has Recycling Glass Gotten Too Expensive?

can we still afford to recycle glass

Glass, along with aluminum, is one of those materials that strikes most of us as a no-brainer for the recycling bin. But it turns out that some places are asking residents to go ahead and throw those glass bottles in the trash. It turns out that recycling glass is an expensive proposition, so much so that waste haulers now have to pay recycling facilities to take the material.

According to Waste Dive, “Waste Management’s CFO James Fish, said glass is difficult to handle, hard on machinery and ‘the only recyclable commodity it has to pay a processor to take.’ The company is considering charging customers extra if they want glass recycled. ” Other processors tell similar stories.

I have to wonder if single-stream recycling is the culprit here: the required machinery mentioned separates glass out from other materials, and glass makers who’d like to use more recycled material have trouble finding it with high enough quality. Would asking customers to separate glass out inevitably bring recycling rates down? Or is the cost going to stay high regardless?

Waste Dive links to an article at the Wall Street Journal, but you’ve got to have a subscription to read it (and I don’t). If you have details to add, please do…

Other waste biz news:

The spoiled meat detector: MIT chemists have developed a sensor made from chemically modified carbon nanotubes that could tell grocers and consumers if meat has spoiled. The sensor would be incorporated into “smart” packaging. (via Waste Dive)

More zero-waste manufacturing: Food and beverage company Nestlé USA has achieved zero waste-to-landfill in all of its North American plants.

Waste bread to beer: Belgian brewery the Brussels Beer Project  is using bread headed for the trash as the main ingredient in its Babylone brew. Reuters points out this isn’t a new idea – the Mesopotamians did it 4000 years ago. But it does make use of a substantial food waste stream. (via

Photo credit: Shutterstock

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