SYOSSET, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – A worldwide recycling crisis has forced many local governments to stop collecting or recycling glass.
But the Town Of Oyster Bay will become the first in Nassau County to set up glass recycling stations for residents, CBSN New York’s Carolyn Gusoff reports.
They call it “wishful recycling.” Folks hope their glass bottles are getting recycled. Chances are, these days, they’re not.
Much of our glass ends up in landfills mixed in with non-recyclables. The Town of Oyster Bay, like municipalities around the nation, had to give up glass recycling because oversea markets dried up.
“China wouldn’t take that, because once the glass was involved with paper it’s really… they can’t make another product out of it. And it was also breaking down their equipment,” said Daniel Pearl, the deputy commissioner of public works of Oyster Bay.
Heavy glass is too expensive to haul out of state for limited recycling options.
Now, there’s a possible local use. Oyster Bay is the first in Nassau County to set up five glass collection igloo pods and asking the public to drop off their cleaned-out glass.
The pilot program requires residents to do their part.
“Residents have to take tops off,” noted Commissioner of Public Works Richard Lenz. “They have to remove all the labels and make sure they are washed out.”
“We hear the public’s cry that these products need to be recycled,” said Town Supervisor Joseph Saladino. “We’re coming up with alternatives, we’re coming up with solutions.”
A company in Jamaica, Queens, plans to take Oyster Bay’s glass and grind it down into the consistency of sand and turn it into landscaping gravel.
“We are looking for ways to keep the glass here on Long Island,” Saladino said. “We are looking for a regional approach as a bigger solution.”
Glass is no longer accepted for recycling by many municipalities since there is no commercial market for it.
Last fall, communities across Long Island that had adopted single-stream recycling ran into trouble. While single-stream sorting can mechanically separates different materials that consumers throw out all at once, they found the end product in single stream was not pure enough to be sold.
China, the world’s leading buyer, no longer accepts such mixed recyclables. As a result, neither do many Long Island municipalities.
Environmentalists say solving the crisis means more ways to recycle closer to home.
“We can’t just sit around and blame China. We have to have American markets to utilize recycled glass,” said Adrienne Esposito of the Citizens Campaign for the Environment.
While Oyster Bay currently pays to haul away its household trash, paper and plastics, it’s glass will now be recycled for free.
After a 90 day pilot program, both the town and the recycling company will evaluate whether or not to continue.