Ninety percent of residents and consumers still expect to be able to recycle glass, according to members of the recycling value chain. The third annual survey by the Ann Arbor, Michigan-based Glass Recycling Coalition (GRC), released at the GRC Fall 2020 Member Meeting, queried more than 200 municipal officials, top glass industry professionals, and material recovery facility (MRF) operators in an open survey from August to September 2020.
“This study reaffirms the fact that consumers fundamentally understand that glass is a recyclable material and they expect to be able to recycle it in their community,” says Scott DeFife, president of the Glass Packaging Institute (GPI) and a member of GRC leadership committee.
The survey revealed some shift in perceptions, trends and concerns among glass recycling stakeholders.
- Concerns about glass recycling decreased by 13 percent since 2018 among public-sector representatives; however, challenges persist in cost-effectiveness, end-market availability and contamination.
- More than 55 percent of MRFs (material recovery facilities) have increased recycling education influenced by current market conditions, increased contamination and rising quality standards.
- Ninety-five percent of public-sector respondents care about what happens to glass collected for recycling up from 53 percent in 2018.
- Top priorities for the public-sector respondents included resident satisfaction, meeting recycling/sustainability goals and reducing contamination. Glass industry respondents named consumer’s desire to recycle glass as a top priority.
- Haulers, MRFs and the public-sector were ranked as members of the value chain that should cover the cost of collecting and processing recyclables (not solely glass).
- Approximately 50 to 60 percent of public-sector and glass industry respondents facing glass recycling challenges expressed interest in public-private partnerships and grants to improve glass recycling and help them achieve their goals.
The trend for decreases in glass recycling concerns could be attributed, in part, to GRC’s work and outreach demonstrating how to keep glass in a program through partnerships, MRF glass cleaning equipment or alternative collection methods, GRC states in a news release on this survey.
For nearly four years, the GRC says it has offered resources and educational support to benefit the glass recycling value chain, including nationally recognized subject matter expert webinars, trend monitoring, best practices and case studies. The GRC is dedicated to breaking down barriers to keep glass in the recycling stream, meeting and growing end-market demand and building awareness of the benefits of glass recycling.
GRC’s new membership levels reflect the evolution of the coalition and open the door to public sector/non-profit organizations, entrepreneurial businesses and small businesses in addition to larger recycling companies, brands and glass industry members.
“We are excited about our new, more inclusive membership levels to expand our organization’s reach in the recycling value chain and beyond,” DeFife adds. “There is still much work to do to ensure that glass recycling stays strong in the U.S., and collaboration is key for GRC.”