Solid Waste Services working to potentially provide curbside glass recycling

The service is still determining possibility of pilot program
Published: Sep. 21, 2021 at 7:17 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Right now in Anchorage, glass can’t be recycled through curbside pickup like many other items, but Solid Waste Services is in the initial stages of a possible pilot program that could make curbside glass recycling available to a select few as early as this winter.

The program is in such an early stage that Suzanna Caldwell, the Solid Waste Services recycling coordinator, said they haven’t determined if it will happen.

“I don’t want people to get their hopes up and think like, ‘Oh, this means we’re going to have curbside glass recycling,’” Caldwell said. “We would love to get there at one point, but there’s a lot of logistical hurdles to work through before we get to that point.”

However, through the end of the month, people who are interested and in the service area can fill out a survey indicating that they’d like it.

Caldwell said recycling glass throughout the country is difficult, and Anchorage is really lucky to have any kind of glass recycling.

She said there’s a few reasons curbside glass recycling in particular is a challenge. One is that it isn’t a very valuable commodity.

“We can’t send it down to the Lower 48 and sell it,” she said. “Nobody wants it because it’s not valuable enough. There’s plenty of other glass to get.”

She said another reason why curbside glass recycling is challenging is because curbside pickup is bailed all together and glass can destroy the other materials.

“When the glass gets in there, it breaks up and it will rip the paper and make it less valuable as a resource,” she said. During the possible pilot program, the glass would be in a separate bin.

Caldwell said glass is one of the few recycled products that stays local. It is picked up from drop-off sites and ground into fill material.

“They crushed it up into recycled glass aggregate, which is essentially kind of like sand,” she said. “And then it’s used in construction projects.”

Caldwell said one reason recycling glass is important is because the landfill has a finite life.

“Right now, we have about 46 years of life left in the landfill,” she said. “That that’s not tomorrow, obviously, but that’s within my lifetime. So, we want to make sure that we’re extending this resource for as long as possible.”

Caldwell said Solid Waste Services has been slowly expanding glass collection. In 2019, the service started a commercial glass collection program and has been collecting from businesses in its territory, she said. It has also added community collection sites at East Anchorage, West Anchorage and Dimond High Schools.

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