Mixed Recycling Bin

Why Can’t Glass Go in the Mixed Recycling?

Mixed Recycling Bin

The below article was written by Momentum Recycling “Amglassador” Ryan Goforth:

Why Can’t Glass Go in the Mixed Recycling?

             One of the most common questions I get when I tell people that I have a degree in environmental studies is “Why can’t I throw glass in with my other recyclables?” The answer I usually give is, “It’s complicated” – but, I gave this answer because before working for a recycling company, I only really knew the basics of why.

Before beginning my internship at Momentum Recycling, I looked into why recycling in Utah is split between glass and everything else. What I found is that it really isn’t all that complicated after all. I found that it makes sense to separate glass from the other mixed recyclables for several reasons.

One of biggest benefits of sorting glass at home is that it reduces the costs of separating the glass later. This is significant because those costs are often later transferred to the producer of that trash, which is us. In sorting our glass out beforehand, we can reduce the cost of our waste. But perhaps more importantly, we can enhance the quality of recycled material in the long run.

When you have a single stream recycling system in which all recyclables go together, the glass will inevitably break apart into tiny pieces. These tiny glass fragments get mixed in with the other recyclables, such as paper, and are essentially impossible to get out (think of a needle in haystack). This leads to a decrease in the quality of materials recovered, which translates to fewer options for potential outlets/products.

Why is this a problem? If a recycling process is able to create products that are of higher quality and can be turned into a larger variety of products, then this decreases the need for virgin materials. With single stream systems, the material that comes out is often not as high of quality as the material that went in. This means that more raw materials must be taken out of the Earth. This costs a vast amount of energy and resources that could be left alone if we just spent the time to sort our recyclables beforehand.

Of course, there are also drawbacks to separating glass out of the waste stream. The main one being that people don’t want to separate their recyclables and so end up sending more to the landfill. However, by limiting the amount of trash people can throw away or by charging them for how much they send to the landfill, you can make sure people will sort their recyclables. People would much rather spend a little extra time sorting than paying more money.

Single stream recycling is at a crossroads. There are so many different recyclable materials used today that material recovery facilities (MRF’s) are unable to effectively sort them all out properly. Glass, plastic bags, and food waste all create problems for recycling systems and we could make these systems considerably more efficient and effective by moving toward multi-stream recycling. Here in Utah, by not throwing our glass into the mixed recycling bin, we can produce much higher quality recycled materials while at the same time capturing more glass for recycling.

Salt Lake County Landfill

The Future of Landfills Along the Wasatch Front

The below article was written by Momentum Recycling “Amglassador” Ryan Goforth:

The Future of Landfills along the Wasatch Front

             One of the most commonly thrown around statistics about the Salt Lake Metropolitan area is that the population is supposed to double in the next 50 years. What does this mean for the residents of the Wasatch Front? It means that more energy and natural resources will be needed to support this population, as well as more goods and services. Which means that residents of this area will consume more and inevitably produce a lot more waste. This could end up being a problem for residents all along the Front because the landfills we currently use will be at capacity in the very near future.

Let’s start with the Salt Lake Valley Landfill, which coincidentally has about 50 years left until it is full. However, this 50-year estimate does not take into consideration that the Wasatch Front population is expected to double in that same time. When that happens, residents will have a very expensive problem to fix for a couple of reasons. To start, landfills are not cheap, they cost taxpayers millions of dollars to start and run. Another reason is that in 50 years, we won’t have room to put a landfill anywhere along the Wasatch Front. This will translate into much higher costs on us to transport waste further away to a new landfill. This will raise huge problems for the future of where we take our trash perhaps sooner than 50 years from now. The Salt Lake Valley Landfill isn’t the only one along the Wasatch Front, however.

The Trans-Jordan Landfill and Wasatch Integrated Landfill are two other major places our trash goes in the Salt Lake area. These landfills are much closer to the end of their life as each one only has about 15 years left. So what happens in 15 years when these landfills can no longer accept trash? Most likely that trash will go to the Salt Lake Valley Landfill, further decreasing the amount of time it will last. It is not all doom and gloom, however; there are easy ways to increase the life of our landfills.

60% of our waste is recyclable. Utah residents need to get to that number. If we could get to 60 percent recycled waste and maybe even higher as the City invests in recycling methods, we could dramatically increase the life of our landfills. This would save Utah taxpayers vast amounts of money in the long run and would conserve important natural resources.

Curbside Glass Recycling Expanding

ABC 4 News covers Momentum Recycling’s expansion of its curbside glass recycling service to Salt Lake County residents in partnership with the Wasatch Front Waste & Recycling District.  View the video clip here.

The Deseret News also visited Momentum’s glass processing facility during our Open House on May 23rd. Click here to view photos.

Open House Press Coverage

 

Utah's Recyclable Goods Industry

Utah Sees Downturn in Recyclable Commodity Prices

Utah's Recyclable Goods Industry

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fox 13 News highlighted the recent downturn in the prices of recyclable commodities produced from Salt Lake County’s recycling collection services. Momentum Recycling’s own John Lair discusses the value in creating a local economy for recyclables rather than relying on the global economy to make recycling viable.

Click here to view the video coverage and read the article.

Construction of Colorado Glass Recycling Plant

Resource Recycling’s Q&A on Momentum Recycling’s New Denver Facility

Resource Recycling’s Q&A on Momentum Recycling’s New Denver Facility

At a time when some communities are retreating on glass recycling, Momentum Recycling is doubling down on it.

The Salt Lake City-based secondary glass processor is currently building an $11 million glass cleaning and sorting plant near Denver (see photo to the left and below), enabling bottle-to-bottle recycling there. In Utah, the company already collects and processes glass for use in insulation and other products, sending no glass to landfill.

“The main thing we want people to understand in Colorado is this opportunity to have a true bottle-to-bottle recycling closed-loop system in the state is a real advance forward,” John Lair, president and CEO of Momentum Recycling, told Resource Recycling. “We want people to consider that as they’re purchasing their products.”   Read More –>

Denver Post: Through the looking glass, some envisioning a recycling rebound

The Denver Post highlighted Momentum Recycling’s new Denver facility opening in September of 2016. The facility will process glass from local MRFs (Materials Recovery Facilities) to provide clean, recycled glass (cullet) to local bottle manufacturers.

To read the article, click here.