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Have you heard the news? Starting Feb. 1st, glass will no longer be accepted in your curbside recycling bin and in this article I’m going to talk about why I think this a great move sustainably and financially for the city of Tucson. 

Full disclosure, I am a part of the Environmental Services Advisory Committee and have been learning and discussing this for a while now. My decision is my own and the goal of being a part of that committee is to take my knowledge and opinion and use it to help advise the Mayor and Council on various decisions

In place of glass recycling through your curbside bin, there will be 22 drop-off sites around the city with big purple bins residents can drop their glass into. From there, the bins will be taken to the Los Reales Landfill for the glass to be processed through an industrial glass crusher. The crushed “glass” will then be used locally to fill sandbags or be used for construction projects. 

So why do I agree with this decision?

  1. It will save the city money over time

Recycling glass in the city of Tucson is expensive and costs us a lot due to the increased weight glass has over other recyclable items, and is frequently recycled incorrectly (not cleaned out, broken, or the wrong type of glass). In 2020 alone, recycling glass cost the city $567,100 or about $107 per ton. Glass has little to no commodity value and drives down the potential for other recyclables. Not to mention the reduction in operational costs from less weight in the blue bins and processing at the material recovery facility.

The reuse plan will require the city to spend approximately $130,000 on the industrial crusher and about $15,000 on each collection bin. Over time this will help reduce the city’s overall recycling cost. By reducing costs for the city, residents will end up saving money too. Switching from recycling to reusing will help avoid hiking up rates or even cutting programs altogether.

  1. It’s The More Sustainable Option

City officials said transitioning from glass recycling to glass reuse will create a 69% drop in greenhouse gas emissions. How? Well, right now, glass is processed at a material recovery facility and then sent to Phoenix where it is used for sandblasting or to Mexico where it is used by beverage bottlers. On top of that the beverage bottlers will have to ship their bottles to the customers that order it. That’s a long way to travel before our recycled glass reaches its final destination. A better option for recycling of any kind would be to find local uses for it, a local solution. This option allows the city to do exactly that, reduce emissions, and save a little money (sand is fairly cheap) by providing / selling sand for local construction projects. 

I think this is a good step toward having a more sustainable city, but it will take some time to get it right. Here are some potential issues I foresee:

  1. Illegal dumping: People use these drop-off sites to dispose of non glass materials or improperly cleaned glass. 
  2. Encouraging people to set aside their glass recyclables, and then taking that extra step to take it to a collection site. However I think this is a double edged sword because on the other hand, those who are willing to make that extra step I believe will be more inclined to recycle properly saving more time and money.

All in all, this program will have it’s hiccups, especially at the beginning, but over time I think it will transform into an awesome program that will turn the use of glass into a circular model that will continue to help our city and it’s residents. What do you think of this initiative. Let me know on Instagram



KOLD News 13

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