Did you know that glass bottles and jars that you put in your green recycling bin each week is probably not getting recycled? Most glass collected through single stream recycling (when paper, plastic, and glass are all put in the same container) now goes into area landfills.
'This is a fact that has caught many cities and counties around Georgia by surprise,' said James Drinkard, Alpharetta's Assistant City Administrator. 'Single stream recycling has been pushed by many communities as a way to reduce the amount of trash going into the waste stream, help the environment, and improve community sustainability. Now we are all learning that single stream recycling may be convenient for citizens, but it comes with a higher cost that recycling companies can no longer bear.'
While cardboard and paper are considered valuable by recycling companies, glass can damage recycling equipment, produce shards that can injure workers, and has a poor cost to revenue ratio to recycle. Because of this, recycling companies are now rejecting glass from their recycling stream and instead ship it to landfills.
If all of that is a surprise, you will be even more surprised to learn that if your recycling bin contains any glass products, all of your recyclables will be considered by the recycler to be 'contaminated.' Because of the high cost to manually sort glass from other recyclable materials, the recycling companies ship those contaminated loads - all of the items in your recycling bin - to the landfill.
'As a result, in April we will begin instructing residents to stop placing glass in their recycling bins,' Drinkard said.
Just how glass will be handled is something the City of Alpharetta has not yet decided. According to City officials there are three options on the table, and they want the public to have a voice in choosing which option is right for Alpharetta.
Option A: Residents Put Glass In The Trash
Under this option, you would simply place glass products into your trash rather than into your recycling container. The option does not require any additional containers, provides the same level of convenience for residents as you have today, and comes at no additional cost to residents.
Option B: Residents Drop Glass Off At A Collection Center
Under this option, you would have to hold or store glass recyclables at your home. Periodically, you would load them into your car, drive to a collection center that would be established at our Public Works Department located on Hembree Road, and unload the glass into the collection container. Glass could not be placed into plastic bags or mixed with any other recyclable or waste product. While the option comes at no additional cost to residents, it is less convenient than the curbside service you have today and requires you to temporarily store the glass at your home.
Option C: Continue Curbside Glass Recycling At Additional Cost
Under this option, you would be provided an additional 18 gallon plastic bin into which you would place any recyclable glass products. On your normally scheduled collection day, you would place the bin at the curb along with your other trash and recyclables. This option provides the convenience of curbside collection, but requires a third waste bin and a $3 per month increase in your waste service bill. Additionally, it would require Republic to add another collection truck to the three already servicing each route, so there would be more heavy trucks in our neighborhoods.
Alpharetta has launched a one-question, online survey on the topic and is asking residents to choose which of those options they would prefer that the City implement. The results of the survey will be presented to the City Council in April when they will decide how glass waste will be handled.
The link to the survey is being included in Alpharetta's upcoming residential waste billing and will also be found on hang tags being placed on residential recycling bins during the week of March 6.