The Glass Recycling Coalition (GRC), Ann Arbor, Michigan, hosted a webinar titled "Making Glass Recycling Work in MRFs" that attracted more than 150 local and state government representatives. In the webinar, Cal Tigchelaar of Resource Management Cos., Chicago Ridge, Illinois, and Rusty Angel of Machinex, headquartered in Plessisville,Quebec, co-presented about the challenges and solutions for effectively managing and cleaning glass in single-stream material recovery facilities (MRFs).
“The message for the past few years has put glass in the doldrums, but what we heard during this webinar is really encouraging for communities that want to recycle their glass,” says Susie Gordon, waste reduction and recycling program manager for the city of Fort Collins, Colorado, who moderated the webinar. “Of course, it’s important to keep working on contamination issues, but we shouldn’t be intimidated about being able to get glass cleaned up, especially when we learn the market is calling for more glass.”
Webinar attendees learned about how investments in single-stream MRF technology can pay for themselves with higher returns of recyclable glass. The presenters offered details about various options for end markets and the growing demand for high-quality cullet (recycled glass).
“Single-stream processing is challenging with or without the inclusion of glass; but, like it or not, it is currently the collection and processing system of choice for residential materials,” said Tigchelaar. “Given the prevalence of single-stream collection and processing across the nation, at this time it is the most effective way to capture the residential glass stream in nondeposit state programs. The environmental benefit gained when recycling glass in bottle-to-bottle applications, fiberglass manufacturing, sandblast media, etc., outweighs the processing difficulties and low value of this material.”
“It is important to us to reach out to recycling coordinators because many do not have the opportunity to tour MRFs firsthand to see what it takes to process the glass,” says Erica Seibert of Emterra, Burlington, Ontario, the Glass Champions committee chair and member of the GRC. “We want to help equip communities with information about options and best practices for glass recovery so they can make decisions to benefit their communities and the environment.”
The GRC says it encourages involvement with local Glass Champions that want to increase glass recycling in their communities. GRC provides a forum for municipalities to participate in initiatives such as webinars to help keep glass recycling in local collection programs.
According to the GRC, the key insights from the webinar include:
- Ninety percent of Americans say they want to recycle glass according to a 2016 national poll by SurveyUSA.
- Glass cleaning systems in MRFs are capable of cleaning three-mix glass from 3/8 inches to 2 1/4 inches in size to provide better feedstock for further beneficiation.
- There is currently a shortage of glass beneficiation capacity throughout the country.
- MRFs that make a reasonable capital investment can create a sustainable business model that includes glass.
- Significant market capacity exists to accept additional glass volumes.
- Using glass cullet in place of virgin materials reduces carbon emissions, energy consumption and fusion loss in the bottle manufacturing and insulation manufacturing industries.