• <bdo id="w2wwu"><center id="w2wwu"></center></bdo>


    Post Time:Mar 02,2023Classify:Industry NewsView:977

    The glass recycling industry continues to grow as both manufacturers and brands are working toward recycled content and sustainability targets.

    According to the Glass Recycling Coalition (GRC) leadership committee, the demand for clean recycled glass (cullet) is high in many areas of the country, and glass is a key part of helping cities reach their recycling or zero waste goals. In communities that may have dropped glass recycling in their curbside programs, the GRC is seeing an increased investment in glass drop off programs and glass-on-the-side programs.

    One of the biggest challenges glass recycling faces, as the GRC explained, is increasing the quality of glass from curbside, single-stream programs.

    “In 2022, the Glass Recycling Foundation, with direction from the Glass Recycling Coalition, awarded nearly $200,000 in grants and pilot support to drop off, bar and restaurant, and glass-on-the-side programs in Oklahoma, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and North Carolina. MRFs are also investing in glass cleaning equipment to produce higher quality glass from single-stream, curbside programs. All these investments lead to a growing and more robust glass recycling industry,” the GRC Leadership Committee said.

    Surveys have shown repeatedly that residents want and expect to be able to recycle their glass, but there are still areas of the country without any glass recycling infrastructure. One of the biggest challenges glass recycling faces, as the GRC explained, is increasing the quality of glass from curbside, single-stream programs. Since this material is commingled with other recyclables, many contaminants end up with the glass – shredded paper, bottle caps, etc. The Glass Recycling Coalition is addressing this challenge through its MRF Glass Certification Program, which recognizes MRFs with cleaning equipment and operational procedures to produce high-quality and marketable glass cullet in both single- and dual-stream systems.

    Cyndy Andela, president and chief executive officer at Andela Products, pointed out that the glass recycling industry has evolved in recent years, as the glass collected curbside and transported to a single stream material recovery facility (MRF) is broken and mixed with shredded paper and other non-glass residue. 

    “This makes the glass more expensive to clean-up and recycle back into bottles or fiberglass. The investment to clean it up and transport it to a glass recycling company that will make it furnace ready cullet, is often cost prohibitive,” Andela said. Also, the companies operating the MRFs often own the landfills, so the glass ends up as landfill cover which is the most convenient (and least expensive) option for them.

    Scott DeFife, president of the Glass Packaging Institute (GPI) said that in the last couple of years, since the release of GPI’s 2020 Circular Future for Glass report, they have seen progress on building models for alternative collection to single-stream, and increasing interest by policymakers and some MRF operators to invest in their glass streams. Additionally, the glass industry is taking things into its own hands to invest in collection in communities and pilots in areas where single-stream collection has chosen not to recycle glass, or work on commercial hospitality streams and addressing transportation and processing gaps.

    In the last few years, the MRF operators also have become more transparent and vocal about the difficulties of recycling this glass back into bottles/fiberglass. The solution they propose is to take it out of the single stream mix.

    “In response to this message, the public was not happy to find out it was going to landfill, and they do not want to throw away the glass. So separate collection sites for glass only have become one of the options. But the volume of glass recycled is less than if it was part of the curbside mixed recycling stream,” Andela said.
    DeFife added that the single greatest challenge the industry has had to overcome is the years of negative or misinformation about glass recycling in the U.S. That is not necessarily a consumer problem, though.

    “Consumers show strong support for glass. They know it is recyclable and want to recycle it. With businesses, the challenge is cutting through the long list of other challenges that many businesses have during the pandemic and getting to the point where they can focus on improving their waste management practices, and even then, if the individual business has any control of making changes,” DeFife said. “For many businesses that use glass, waste management decisions are at a corporate level, or rest with a commercial property manager that is reluctant to change.”

    As DeFife further explained, the bigger issue is often the conversations between the service provider and local official, and outdated information about the cost of glass recycling that can be related to a lack of transparency about contamination, pricing, contracts and markets. He suggested that re-educating local officials about glass recycling takes time, and equipping them with the knowledge that they have more options than they think they have is leading to some creative thinking.

    “The weight may limit the geographic range of potential outlets, but that can be mitigated by lowering contamination,” DeFife said. “We still run into situations where there is a glass processing facility within 30 to 50 miles of the MRF that will take the glass, but the operator, even knowing that the glass stream is highly contaminated with landfill residual (in ways that do not compare to any other commodity) have an unrealistic expectation of value, or choose to landfill because it is easier.”

    Creative Solutions

    For decades, the message surrounding glass recycling has traditionally been that recycled glass is for bottle production. As Andela pointed out, if this is not feasible due to mixed glass or long distances to travel, then there isn’t another solution offered.

    “But this is changing as Disney, Rotary, independent recyclers (Glass Half Full) are publicly showing their enthusiasm for turning glass back into sand. A circular solution – glass started as sand and is converted back to sand,” Andela said. “Also, sand is becoming a limited resource in many parts of the country and world, so glass sand is a great alternative with other properties that make it better than mined sand.”

    DeFife further pointed out that many companies like Van Dyk or Machinex, among others, have developed equipment that can clean up the residual contamination from the MRF glass stream and improve the economics of the commodity for the community.

    “We have worked to identify a set of MRFs that have the greatest opportunity to recycling their glass with nearby markets if there were an investment in more or better glass equipment at the MRF,” DeFife said. “We have been talking with other stakeholders about a MRF investment program to bring this new equipment to MRFs that make logical sense to recycle their glass.”

    Based on the conversations that the GPI is having, there also is a strong interest in learning more about glass markets, exploring new collection models and trying to figure out a glass program in order to meet landfill diversion goals.

    “We have a growing list of grant requests at the Glass Recycling Foundation, and spend a great deal of time working with communities that call and ask for help figuring out options for glass,” DeFife said. “We are working to see if we can create a national standard set of options for glass recycling based on the level of infrastructure in a given region.”

    These efforts are needed, especially in light of the EPA data that indicates that American consumers throw away about 9 to 11 million tons of glass every year. “About two to three million tons of glass gets recycled now,” Andela said. “There is a lot of glass still going to the landfills.”

    To improve these recycling numbers, municipalities are promoting different ways of collecting glass for recycling; curbside pickup (mixed), or drop-off center (glass only). They are also promoting the local uses they have developed for the glass sand and how their constituents are excited to see it recycled and used locally.

    “There also continues to be legislation at the state and federal levels to encourage producer responsibilities, that includes the ‘bottle bills.’ These are effective ways to encourage consumers to return the glass bottles of recycling,” Andela said. “This is also the cleanest and most effective ways to get glass recycled back into bottles.”

    Four states have passed Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) laws for packaging in the past two years: Maine, Oregon, California and Colorado. In addition, California had expanded their bottle bill program to include wine and spirits, and similar efforts have been seen in Connecticut, Vermont and New York.

    “Those four EPR programs – all designed differently – have a tremendous opportunity to advance glass recycling in those states,” DeFife said. “Another half dozen states are actively looking at the actions of the first four and considering packaging laws as well: Washington, New York, New Jersey, Illinois, Maryland, and Connecticut… maybe more. These will create even more opportunities for improved glass recycling.”

    There also have been advances in technology for optically color sorting glass, so the mixed color glass from the MRFs can be sorted to make furnace-ready cullet for bottles and fiberglass.

    Andela pointed out that research is being done for the beneficial use of glass sand as a soil amendment with compost. Composting is becoming more important, to divert the food and green waste from the landfills. Mixing glass sand with the compost makes a glass-based soil with beneficial properties.
    “In addition to the four states with EPR and the possible expansion of deposit return systems, which will create a lot of momentum for glass recycling, we have attractive pilots underway in a couple cities related to bar and restaurant streams of glass, as well as a regional hub and spoke system in remote areas with higher glass use,” DeFife said. These programs cut out a lot of steps and can deliver the glass to processing and the supply chain faster and with less contamination.

    “Public-private partnerships and investments by consumer brands are helping to build momentum and spur investment in glass recycling initiatives,” the GRC Leadership Committee said. “Glass is a preferred packaging choice for many consumers, is 100 percent recyclable, and is a crucial piece of the glass manufacturing supply chain.”

    Source: https://americanrecycler.com/Author: shangyi

    Hot News

  • <bdo id="w2wwu"><center id="w2wwu"></center></bdo>