Changes to glass recycling impacts surrounding area

Glass has become quite a problem for recyclers.

It’s so much of a problem, the Pennsylvania Resource Council is requiring some residential and community programs to stop including glass in recycling altogether.

In a statement released by PRC, there is a problem dealing with glass in recycling facilities and a change on the global recycling markets. Glass has a tendency of damaging equipment and harming people who sort through recycling. It doesn’t help that glass is difficult to sort out within the different types of plastics and other recyclable materials. Not including glass will solve these problems, PRC claims.

Southwestern Pennsylvania already has begun making these changes. Many townships, like South Strabane and Peters in Washington County, do not collect glass with people’s recycling.  Greene Arc, Greene County’s only recycling agent, has “not yet” had to stop their collection of glass, Eric Scritchfield, plant supervisor for Greene Arc, Inc.’s Recycling Processing Facility, said. The facility will, however, have to stop collecting glass soon to protect equipment and efficiency.

“In the summer we usually slow down, so probably before the summer,” Scritchfield said. “Probably by spring.”

The debate for recyclers, now, is whether to keep collecting glass at all. Glass, according to the PRC statement, is one of the most collected materials in the industry. One reason why glass is so used, said Mimi Ritenour, solid waste and recycling coordinator for the Department of Economic Development for Greene County, is because of its reusability.

“Glass is one of the few, if not only, things that can be recycled an infinite amount of times,” Ritenour said.

While glass is an important recyclable material, creating a new process to handle and distribute glass makes keeping it in the recycling loop difficult. For Greene Arc, while they are “waiting to see” before starting preparations for the changes, it might be too much of a problem for the plant to invest in.

“It’s hard for any company to make a profit enough to keep running if we are doing glass because prices are so low as it is, and now with new issues with it,” Scritchfield said.

According the the PRC statement, the council is working with various groups to provide drop-off spots for people to keep recycling glass.