For now, your glass is trash

Queries to other municipalities outline recycling glass problems

Published on October 21, 2010
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.