Hampton curbside glass recycling to end

Tuesday, March 3, 2020 | 11:00 PM

Hampton will be having pop-up glass recycling events, including two with the Pittsburgh Resource Council, later this year.

This comes after an approval at the Feb. 26 township council meeting to amend the current Waste Management contract to remove glass from the curbside recyclables collection stream.

The trash collection company, which is contracted to pick up garbage and recyclables, including glass, in Hampton Township, contacted township administration earlier this year that they were not recycling glass any longer.

Waste Management relayed to the township that there is not a market which will take the glass they pick-up.

“Across the country, recycling programs are adapting to changes in commodity markets. To make something recyclable, there must be a viable end market for the commodity,” said Erika Deyarmin-Young, a public affairs coordinator for Waste Management in Western Pennsylvania.

She said there’s an increased focus on cleaning up contamination since the beginning of 2018.

“Contamination is a big issue for recycling, and we have been working with customers across the country to improve the quality of recyclable materials we collect and process,” said Deyarmin-Young.

Currently, Waste Management takes the curbside pick-up of glass to their Neville Island location to sort and then it heads straight to the landfill, said Township Municipal Manager Christopher Lochner. But since it’s in the contract, the trash collection company owns the glass they collect from residents.

Amending the contract gives Hampton ownership and Lochner said they “thought it hypocritical” to have curbside recycling and it not getting recycled.

Hampton has scheduled two pop-up glass recycling events with the Pittsburgh Resource Council, tentatively for June 6 and Oct. 10. Lochner said they will keep the community informed of nearby events in the area.

Justin Stockdale, managing director of the PRC, said companies that have a single-stream collection, like Waste Management, have to sort through everything after collecting at the curb. They then have to separate the glass at another location, which becomes quite an effort and cost to do so, said Stockdate.

When recycling started in the 1970s and 1980s, there were separate recycle bins for items, such as cardboard, newspapers, bottles and plastics, he said. Now it’s all mixed together and needs to be sorted and cleaned.

“It’s like trying to unscramble an egg,” said Stockdale.

Stockdale said there are several locations in Western Pennsylvania that can take glass from trash collection companies. So, he said the market is not the problem.

A company can invest in technology to clean the glass, or hire a third-party to do so. Or just not collect, he said. Stockdale said these decisions can affect a business’s decision on recycling.

Deyarmin-Young said glass can be a challenging commodity in a single stream recycling program. Broken glass can contaminate other commodities, such as paper and plastics, and impact the quality of those materials, she said. In addition, glass is also very heavily contaminated when mixed with other commodities in a single stream sorting process.

“When we sort glass out of the recycling stream, we must run it though two additional processors to get the quality end users require,” she said.

She added when glass is separated from other commodity types, it is more valuable and desirable by the end user.

Waste Management currently has a processor for recycled glass in Western Pennsylvania. However, effective April 1, Hampton Township has elected to remove glass as an acceptable material, said Deyarmin-Young.

Stockdale said they want to show that people are very interested in recycling as they have had very successful glass recycling events. Their last one in December collected more than 30 tons and had approximately 1,500 households participate.

“It proves people want to recycle glass,” he said.

PRC, a 501(c)(3), an environmental not-for-profit, regularly holds events such as for items that are hard to recycle or chemicals. “Now, glass has suddenly become one of those materials,” he said.

If residents choose not to do glass recycling, they can just throw it in their normal trash, said Lochner.

The PRC pop-up events will be held in the parking lot across from the Hampton Community swimming pool. The minimum cost to the township is $1,250 per event, he said.

However, the more glass they collect, the more the township can receive through a state Department of Environmental Protection recycling grant, said Lochner.

Also, PRC is a “one-stop shop” and handles everything, making it convenient for residents and they may have a sponsor for one or more of the events, said Lochner.

And there will be no change in contract fees from Waste Management.