Recycling had a bit of a public relations problem in 2015 – for a stretch there it seemed as though a month didn’t go by without someone taking a swipe at the industry. With commodities markets struggling, the time was ripe for New York Times columnist John Tierney and many others to wonder about the value of recycling anything other than aluminum beverage containers and old corrugated cardboard. The sky was falling and no one was shy about saying so. And many were quick to blame glass.
In part because of the explosive growth of single-stream recycling collection around the country, as well as due to the way many materials recovery facilities (MRFs) are set up, glass can have a deleterious effect on both processing equipment and the other materials being processed, particularly fiber. Depending on how material is collected and processed, in many communities, glass containers are considered a nuisance.
However, the recovery of glass containers is an integral part of recycling programs throughout the country and has been for decades. It’s also a key component of many community and state recovery rate goals, making up 34 percent of the municipal solid waste stream by weight, according to U.S. EPA figures.