Citing a lack of available outlets that will recycle glass, the New Smyrna Beach City Commission voted to temporarily separate glass from the city’s recycling stream during their regular meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 9, 2021.
“With glass, it’s not recycled in a way that you normally would do with a plastic bottle where it’s turned into something else,” said Solid Waste Compliance Officer Ami Blakely during City Commission discussion on the item. “It’s considered recyclable because they crush and use it for landfill cover, but there’s really no point in us paying this double fee for something that’s just going to a landfill anyway.”
The net estimated savings resulting from discontinuing the separate pickup of glass is $28,031 per year.
“As it is right now, we are not recycling glass. We are putting it in a recycle bin and it goes to the exact same landfill as what you put in your trash can,” said Mayor Russ Owen. “That’s the unfortunate reality because there is no one that is recycling the glass.”
For the past few years, local governments throughout the country have been grappling with how to handle the processing of recyclables given increased costs and restrictions on which items can be recycled. Waste Pro, the city’s solid waste collection contractor, reports that glass is most often disposed of at a landfill due to a lack of available outlets that accept and recycle glass, which accounts for approximately 30% of the total weight of recyclables collected throughout the city.
In 2019, both Port Orange and Ormond Beach separated glass from their recycling streams while Deltona went a step further by suspending their recycling program entirely. When the issue was then raised in New Smyrna Beach, commissioners agreed to wait and see if new markets for glass developed.
“When we talked about this last time… the majority agreed to continue this with the hopes that there would be a recovery in the glass market; that someone would step up and start taking our glass,” said Owen. “That hasn’t happened. So we are literally sending a separate truck to pick up this, but it is ultimately going to the exact same place.”
“That’s correct,” confirmed Blakely. “I’ve been in the waste industry for a long time. They used to use it sometimes to crush up and put in road material and stuff like that, but they don’t even do that anymore. So, rather than pay $77.50 a ton, we should just be paying $34 a ton to just dispose of it because it’s literally going to the same place.”
“So I would say that we’re not discontinuing our glass recycling,” continued Owen. “We’re discontinuing our separate pickup of glass to take it to the landfill.”
New Smyrna Beach’s current agreement with Waste Pro provides that, “The City may choose from time to time to eliminate certain items from the list of recyclable materials if and when market changes have declined to such a point that there is no market for the specific commodity. The Contractor will be responsible for notifying residents of any change in allowable recyclable materials.”
“I think it’s going to take a while for the educational portion of this to get through,” said Zone 4 Commissioner Randy Hartman. “As long as Waste Pro is going to work with us on the educational part of it and whatever we can do, I certainly do support it.”
Waste Pro Division Manager Ken DeForest reports they will use a number of methods to notify customers of the change including their website, social media, door hangers, direct mailing, and newspaper ads.
Would you like to know more? Please visit https://bit.ly/31TonZO and scan ahead to timestamp 1:35:10 to watch video replay of City Commission discussion on the item and contact Solid Waste Compliance Officer Ami Blakely at firstname.lastname@example.org or (386) 424-2207.