Letter: Waste hauler advocates for removing glass from list of recyclables
Recycling is a critical part of local waste services. Twin Enviro Services is devoted to preserving and protecting our fragile environment. Sadly, worldwide problems are affecting us in Routt County. China and other Third World countries are now unwilling to accept waste for sorting, and markets for cardboard, paper and plastic have fallen. When you add the cost of moving recycled material to markets from mountain towns, the situation has become more serious. Here are some facts:
When Twin Enviro began collecting single stream recycling over 10 years ago, a Denver Material Recovery Facility — MRF/sorting facility — paid Twin $15 per ton for what we delivered there. To reduce emissions and shipping costs we built a MRF at the Milner Landfill so sorted material could be shipped directly to end users. An experienced contractor now operates our MRF and charges $79 per ton for the mixed recyclables collected from you. Denver prices are almost as high.
Glass makes up 20% of the weight of single-stream mixed recyclables. It breaks. It contaminates the other recyclables and makes sorting more difficult and dangerous. It litters the MRF with shards that are everywhere. Leaded glass, TV tubes, Pyrex, crystal and pottery must be sorted out since those materials cannot be recycled. Once separated in Milner, glass costs $35 per ton to transport to Denver where a glass recycler there pays $25 per ton back to our contractor.
Glass is inert. It does not generate carbon when landfilled. Landfill capacity is not an issue here. Glass can be recycled but the processing takes 70% as much energy as making glass from raw material (sand). When adding the carbon emitted by collection, sorting (by hand and by machinery at the MRF), packaging for transport, and trucking to Denver, there is more carbon emitted than making new glass.
Many communities have discontinued accepting glass for recycling in Colorado and nationwide. Local reuse by pulverizing has been attempted in Telluride and Montrose, but has been unsuccessful.
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Twin Enviro Services advocates for removing glass from the list of material that, by Steamboat Springs city ordinance, must be recycled locally. City Council is considering that change.
We are in the business of helping locals to act responsibly to protect the environment. Glass recycling is not protective of the environment in our community.
Les A. Liman
Twin Enviro Services owner
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