Dirty glass—bits of plastic, paper labels, and chunks of food mixed in with green, amber and clear shards—is the bane of recyclers.
According to a recent Denver Post article, dirty glass—bits of plastic, paper labels, and chunks of food mixed in with green, amber and clear shards—is the bane of recyclers. It is destructive to the machinery used to recycle materials and as it crumbles, it becomes even more difficult to clean and sort. Most people don’t realize beer and beverage bottles relegated to recycling bins usually is transported from bins to facilities to landfills. There it lays as a heavy layer on the trash piles. In a time when when new materials can be less expensive than recycled papers, plastics, and aluminum—and other economic factors—this residual glass is just another of the burdens recyclers bear.
Salt Lake City-based Waste Management has a plan to reduce this pressure with the impending opening of its $11 million Momentum Recycling plant in unincorporated Boulder County. At this new facility, the company plans to harvest the currently discarded glass collected from Colorado’s largest recyclers and make it reusable by bottlemakers. They see an opportunity where others do not and they should know; Waste Management has been processing recycled glass for use as insulation for seven years.
Due to open in September, the facility will house a fleet of optical sorting machines manufactured in Austria. The glass will be separated by color using high-pressure air jets and trash will be diverted. The system is a water-free, chemical-free process enabling the conversion of 5,000 tons of glass a month into furnace-ready crushed glass known as cullet. Once opened, they will be able to deliver pristine cullet to Owens-Illinois’ bottlemaking plant in Windsor, CO. This not only reduces contributions to landfills, but also results in a 3% reduction in energy use for every 10% increase in processed recycled glass—but this is a positive step for a Colorado, which ranks among the lowest 20 states for diverting trash toward other uses.
Infinite Clothing applauds Waste Management—and Colorado—for their efforts. Sustainability must become a way of life for individuals and companies alike.