Arlington Virginia recently announced it no longer accepts glass in its recycling bins. So, what now? Does glass now go to a landfill? What about your city? What are the alternative uses for repurposed glass bottles dropped off by residents?
Residents may still drop off the glass at dedicated containers at various locations around the county. In Arlington, these include Aurora Hills Community Center, Cherrydale Branch Library, and The Lee Community Center. Check with your County or City Website for locations near you. There is usually a list of locations under “Environmental Services,” “Trash Services,” tabs, or similar. All clear and colored glass bottles and jars are considered acceptable if remnants of food and other debris are removed by rinsing and cleaning. There are also some new trash and recycle boutique service companies that will pick up your recyclable glass for a fee. Reliable Hauling and Junk Removal in Arlington, Virginia (ReliableHaulingAndJunkRemoval.com) is one of the few bulk trash services that offer this service. Virginia Realtor Juli Clifford (JuliClifford.com) helps her clients to find recycle drop-off locations near them when they purchase a new home.
Those used glass containers are then delivered to a dedicated facility in Fairfax County where first it is crushed (where is it called “cullet” in the industry) and used in a pilot program for street paving projects. The program has become successful enough now that other uses are found for glass containers including new glass containers (surprise!) and fiberglass products. As of January 22, 2020, Fairfax County reported over four million pounds of glass containers collected and repurposed. Denver, Colorado reports that it processes up to 25,200 tons of beneficial-reuse glass each year. There are also landscaping services that use crushed recycled glass in walkway and driveway replacement projects and crushed tumbled glass (glass placed in large bins and rolled in place with sand to smooth out the sharp edges) in gardens. And we should not forget about individuals who use glass in craft projects which is a mall percentage but still a viable market for the sale of recycled glass.
What types of glass cannot be recycled? Ceramic glass for one. The mix of materials used is not suitable for recycling. You also are unable to recycle decorative glass. Basically, any glass material with special additives used for decoration is unsuitable for the recycling bin. Drinking glasses are off the list. Leave light bulbs out of the containers too, especially compact fluorescent light bulbs which should be delivered to your local special pickup location due to the small amount of mercury present in the bulb.