The high annual cost of glass recycling is having an impact on material recovery facilities.
There is an annual net cost of $150 million for material recovery facilities as well as their municipal partners to move recovered glass downstream. To ensure the viability of processing facilities and programs, significant industry-wide efforts are necessary. It is necessary to put a better system into place than just better clean-up.
Last summer, during a stakeholders meeting, New York officials came up with a concept regarding an in-depth investigation on the issues associated with glass recycling. In doing so, the city tried to determine how to make glass recycling economically friendly by taking a look at their own costs.
The beverage company, Heineken USA, gave the Closed Loop Foundation a grant to help them understand the financial pinpoints of today’s glass recycling. They also provided the grant so that they could help the industry move forward by offering some recommendations.
According to Dan Leif’s article on resourcerecycling.com, the resulting report highlights the steps that can be taken within the glass recycling chain to assist moving more glass into markets instead of it being disposed of. Leif’s article also informs that the $150 million cost figure is the amount that it will cost for the research to measure the scale of the problem.
It costs material recovery facilities $35 per ton to take in single-stream material. Due to the expense, many local programs have recently decided to take glass out of their collection system, which is advised against by the Closed Loop Study.
Significant costs and energy can be saved by manufacturers using recycled glass. However, if local programs continue to take glass out of their collection systems, less and less glass will be generated each year to be recovered.
Leif explains that a more efficient and cost-effective solution is needed in order to handle single-stream glass. The Closed Loop Foundation’s analysis can help reduce overall costs by identifying sorting practices, as well as equipment approaches to help develop that efficiency.
Material recovery facilities who are sited closer to downstream buyers, and who handle large amounts of material can benefit economically from such cleanup systems. If implemented, these processing improvements have the potential of growing the nation's supply of recycled glass by 33 percent.