The Rationale for Dropping Glass from Curbside Recycling Collections

No recycling company likes to discontinue recycling anything, but
some materials do more harm than good when included with other
recyclables. Glass falls into this category. Consider:


The new, more efficient collection system uses compaction trucks to collect recyclables. In this process, most glass is broken.


Employees sort recyclables by hand and broken glass causes injuries. This can also cause eye injuries as they move through the recycling loop.


Glass is a contaminant when commingled with other recyclables. This is especially true for paper, which can account for almost 90% of the recyclables by weight. Shards, glass slivers, and grit can contaminate scrap paper, which is made into everything from cellulose insulation to fine writing paper to bath tissue and more.


Nebraska has to ship glass several hundred miles to reach the nearest glass factory. Not only does the freight cost exceed prices paid, but the amount a fossil fuels used to reach glass markets is counterproductive to our environmental goals. There have been local attempts to use ground glass in road construction and for sanding icy roads, but sand and gravel are readily available and less costly alternatives.


Broken glass is difficult and costly to sort out. These small pieces of broken glass cannot be sorted by color and mix with other small items such as bottle caps.


There is less and less glass to recycle every year. By weight all glass (even glass that is not recyclable such as window panes and windshield glass) now represents less than 9% of our waste stream. Other, lighter but more durable and more recyclable materials such as plastic and aluminum have steadily eroded the types of materials packaged in glass, and the trend is not likely to change anytime soon.