Columbus GA’s Glass DilemmaBy
Columbus GA is finding that recycling glass is not easy. A recent article in the Columbus Ledger-Inquirer reports that local business owners are frustrated by their inability to recycle their glass bottles. In fact, the paper reports, bars and restaurants in this Georgia town account for more than 30 tons of glass each year, all of which ends up in a nearby landfill. Columbus is not alone. In countless municipalities across the country, glass is considered the ugly duckling of recyclable wastes. Paper, plastic and metals are more highly valued as they are easily extracted from the waste stream and sold to manufacturers for reuse in their products. As the country has moved to single-stream recycling –where all recyclables are collected curbside at the same time — glass has become even more of a problem because it breaks and sticks to the more valuable materials. Some of the broken glass, or cullet, is recovered by the waste collectors and sold to recyclers, or benefitiators, who clean and resell the cullet to glass manufacturers. But it is estimated that the about 50% of the glass collected in the single-stream process ends up in landfills like the one in Columbus.
Green Mountain Glass may have the answer for Columbus and hundreds of municipalities across the US. GMG’s Batch Formulation System allows glass manufacturers to use mixed-color cullet to produce a single color (green and amber) glass product. By introducing this new element to glass production, the Batch Formulation System eliminates the costly color-sorting process that occurs before glass is recycled. More important, the BFS opens the door to recovery of the estimated 50% of mixed-color cullet that currently finds it way into local landfills.