For now, your glass is trash

Alisha Morrissey
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Queries to other municipalities outline recycling glass problems

Recycling bottles

St. John’s residents will have to continue chucking glass bottles in the trash.

There are no plans to include those spaghetti sauce or jam jars in the new recycling plan the city rolled out this week.

Jason Sinyard, the city’s waste management manager, said he talked to a lot of other people running recycling programs in the preceding years the city spent developing its recycling plan, and that’s where the idea to hold off on glass came from.

“The question we often put to them was if you had it to start over what would you change? And a lot of what we heard back was if we could come up with a list of what to take, we wouldn’t take glass in our program we’d be starting that now. And they had a number of reasons for that,” Sinyard said.

For starters, he said, glass breaks.

So after it’s tossed onto the curb and into the back of a truck, and is on the sorting line with shampoo bottles and milk cartons, the glass is an occupational hazard.

Sinyard said there’s also not much of a market for this glass, meaning it could end up in a landfill anyway.

Most importantly, he said, it’s harder to sell recyclable materials when there’s broken glass mixed in.

“It devalues your product on the market and you may have a challenge to get rid of your product,” Sinyard said.

“That’s a big consideration when you’re trying to determine what products you’re going to take and you want to ensure that the products you do take will be recycled and not end up in a landfill.”

Coun. Danny Breen said he’s received a lot of complaints about not recycling glass.

“The reasons given by the staff were pretty reasonable,” he said.

“Because we were the last ones to do this we were able to go to a lot of municipalities to see what they had done and their experiences etc. One thing that was pretty common was the issue of glass.”

The problems managing glass, he said, means the city isn’t looking at recycling it anytime soon.

Besides, he says, lots of people save glass bottles and use them around the house.

Sinyard also points out that recyclers have to make choices as shoppers as well.

“You could always buy your pickles in jars that aren’t glass too. It’s up to consumers that if they want to ensure that the products they purchase are being recycled then they should look for packaging that is a recyclable material,” he said.

“There’s alternatives out there and people need to consider that when they do their shopping.”

Mike Wadden, CEO of Evergreen Recycling, says his organization will still be accepting glass beverage containers, including wine and liquor bottles and some other beverage containers.

But Evergreen doesn’t accept other glass products.

The province gives a portion of the deposit paid on the original purchase of the beverages, to recycling programs like Evergreen’s. No deposit is paid on other glass products.

The city’s recycling program, which rolled out Monday, has been generally successful with about 40 per cent of households taking part.

Organizations: Evergreen Recycling

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Recent comments

  • Audacity Central
    October 22, 2010 - 18:49

    Glass is ok. It's mostly sand, and if it ends up in the ocean is quickly smoothed out by wave action. But any material thing we use also represents the energy and pollution that went into it's manufacture and transport to consumer. Therefore, clean energy is paramount, and using ships and trains instead of transport trucks. We are doing ok with the extra 100 MW or so of wind power added lately in St. Lawrence, Burin Peninsula lately, and Fermeuse, Southern Shore. Also, good old Oceanex plying the St. Lawrence river to and from Montreal is great for the environment. Energy is important in recycling as well, it's all kind of pointless if the recycling material is processed or melted down by means of coal fired power plants or something like the oil fired power plant in Seal Cove/Holyrood in Conception Bay South. This is in the top polluters in Canada, it burns the worst grade of oil that exists, called bunker 'C'. Though recent improvements have been made to the smokestacks, etc. It is an embarrassment, it is a government run entity that should no longer exist. People in Seal Cove have suffered the effects of particulate fall out for years with a coating of dirt coating their cars and homes, not to mention the effects on respiratory illness and cancer. It doesn't matter how much recycling you do if dirty energy like this is used in the process. Thank you

  • Dianne
    October 22, 2010 - 07:30

    Glass is ANYTHING but trash. For those of you who wish to lend a hand to those in need, drop your "GLASS/TRASH" to the recycling depot with a clear label showing that it is a donation ! 'FOR THE LOVE OF LEARNING" gladly accepts the proceeds from your donation of GLASS/TRASH to help the youth in our communtiy who are dealing with extremely difficult life situations! .

  • Ken Dodge
    October 21, 2010 - 15:07

    So if the city can't pick up glass with the recycling program because it might get broken and contaminate paper and other products which is worth by far more money in the marketplace then sure as hell the MMSB can get green depots to accept a jam jar or pickle jar. If you can recycle a liquor bottle or any glass bottle you pay a deposit on and they get crushed before they go to market then why can't they take other glass, who knows the difference once it is crushed? Glass is glass. This would probably help us get to half much quicker, just an idea. Spend a few of these millions that is put aside on the thousands and thousands of refundable glass and other beverages containers that do end up in the landfill, it goes to show once again that it's all about money.

  • Ryan
    October 21, 2010 - 11:36

    Folks, Why would we chuck the glass bottles, when we can simply bring them to the recycling depot ourselves? Of course, not ALL glass products are accepted at the recycling dfepot. But the majority of glass bottled items are still recyclable, so it shouldn't be AS big of a problem if we recycle them. Regards

  • Robert
    October 21, 2010 - 10:29

    It's really not a big deal. Glass takes up a very small percentage in our landfills. Also, glass doesn't decompose and create harmful methane. Think about how much crap is not going into our landfill now - a little bit of glass is better than tonnes & tonnes of plastic every year. Even in bigger cities you'd be surprised how much of their 'recycled glass' ends up in the landfill anyways. Cheer up everyone.

  • Shack23
    October 21, 2010 - 09:55

    Why is the City of St. John's is so far behind in recycling?? I have had my recycling, glass included, picked up every Monday , at my curbside for years . I am a resident of Paradise . I'm not sure where the materials are taken. I'm just trying to do my part for the environment .

  • ricky bobby
    October 21, 2010 - 09:45

    I'm just going to throw this out there and no I’m not a rocket scientist from NASA. Find a city of similar size in North America and adopt their program or model it. Lets say halifax.....Light years ahead of Dennis and the b'ys. I hate to say it but are we the Stupid Newfie's after all???

  • Calgarian
    October 21, 2010 - 09:27

    Perhaps someone should look at Calgary's recycling program. Every household has one large (garbage can like) blue bin that all recylcable items are tossed into. There's no need to sort anything within the household. These bins are picked up weekly and dumped, then sorted at the plant. I'm not sure of the sorting details once it reaches the plant but it's a process that works. Residents pay a small monthly fee for this service but it's so worth it as I now am more particular about what I throw in the garbage and it's reduced the number of garbage bags I put on the curb during the week. Glass bottles have not been a problem to date and because they're in a bin, there are no bags to contend with and no broken glass to watch out for. Just a thought.

  • Heather
    October 21, 2010 - 08:52

    I choose food in glass jarswhenever I can because I am not convinced that carcinogenic chemicals in plastic bottles are not leeching into the food within. I have been to many European cities that have municipal containers labelled for glass etc. throughout the city (public parks, supermarket parking lots) That way the glass is kept separate.

  • John
    October 21, 2010 - 08:14

    Bring them to Evergreen Recycling! How could the opening sentence of this article be "St. John’s residents will have to continue chucking glass bottles in the trash." Only people who read to the bottom of the article will see that Evergreen take glass. Atlantic Blue also pick up glass bottles. Please change the sentence to read "St. John’s residents will have to find another option to recycle their glass bottles." Come on, show some common sense and some responsibility.

  • John
    October 21, 2010 - 07:27

    If there is no market for glas why is it that there is a bottle plant in NB that isn't able to get the bottles he needs to make new bottles? As well, there was a plastic wood manufactureer in the Corner Brook area that wasn't able to get the plastics that he needed to run his business. He could take any kind of plastic, including plastic shopping bags such as groceries are packed in.