Waste Management trying curbside glass recycling in Dundee
At the end of the pilot project, which is scheduled to go through May, spokeswoman Jackie Lang said, Waste Management will analyze the information collected, and notify the city councils of both cities how much it would cost to make curbside glass recycling a permanent feature.
It would likely mean a slightly higher monthly garbage bill – probably something somewhere in the neighborhood of the cost of a cup of coffee, Lang said. The question remaining to be answered, however, is whether that means the cost of a plain cup of Joe, or a fancy flavored latte.
“Anytime we're talking about costs, that needs to be examined very carefully,” Lang said. “So anytime a city is asking us to to add a new service, we work really hard to keep the cost low, but we need to be realistic.”
Only unbroken bottles and jars are allowed in the carts, but Lang acknowleged there is still some breakage, which is part of the reason that processors have typically been reluctant to accept cart materials that include glass.
It took some logistical juggling to make the pilot project work, she said – beginning with finding a new recycling processor, since the one the company had been selling its recyclables to didn't handle glass.
Although most of the rest of the country includes glass in curbside recyclables, Oregon does not, for various reasons, including the prevalence of pulp and paper mills in the region, Lang said.
"Over time, there have been legitimate processing concerns," she said.
Waste Management located a Portland company that did have the ability to handle glass mixed with other household items, and changed its handling of the materials. Formerly, Lang said, Newberg and Dundee recyclables were mixed together, and sent to one processor. Now the materials from Dundee are kept separate and sent to the new processor, so that the company can gather as much data about the program as possible. Newberg materials are still sent to the original processor.
“We chose Dundee” for the pilot project, “because we could capture all of Dundee's recycables in one collection,” Lang said.
“We're getting a good, strong participation,” Lang said. “We're trakcing the results by weight, and we can see that the volumes are increasing.”
In addition, she said, “Early feedback from our processor indicates that the addition of glass is being managed smoothly.”
Glass recycling presents challenges, Lang said.
“Glass shards can create maintenance issues at pulp and paper mills, so if it get into the paper mill is purchasing to recycle, that can be problematic,” she said.
Removing the glass is typically done in several ways, she said.
In the rest of the country, “It's typically done with a series of screens and hand sorting primarily,” she said. “If you're going to separate all kinds of recyclables, the full toolkit is hand sorting, and then there are screens, and the little pieces of glass and dirt fall out the bottom. Then magnetic sorting devcies pull off aluminum, scrap metal and tin.
“Then there's air sorting mechanisms, that blow the paper into the right bin. So typically a processor will use a mix of different sorting devices as part of their overall processing system.”
In Oregon, however, such state-of-the-art systems intended to remove glass don't exist, so Dundee's recycables are going through "a basic sorting system without all the bells and whistles," she said.
Because the glass adds complexity to the sorting process, she said, systems that include glass cost more.
Once Waste Management is finished analyzing the data, she said, it will be presented to the city councils of Newberg and Dundee and to the county commissioners, since Waste Management handles collection for about half the rural households in unincorporated areas of the county.”