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[GreenYes] glass recovery from commingled curbside program
Here's my two cents on this glass recycling issue:

1.  Let's push for more reuse through refilling.  Refilling beverage
containers can remove these containers from curbside collection programs
thereby reducing the breakage and contamination problems one-way glass
bottles often present.  We just launched a new web site with the
GrassRoots Recycling Network on refillable beverage containers:  Reduce,
Reuse, Refill!  at  Check it out and
let me know what you think.  ILSR is interested in taking this project
to the next step; i.e., reviving refilling in the United States.  If you
would support such an effort, let me know.

2.  Refilling systems, to be successful, largely depend on a deposit
system.  This ensures citizen participation and high return rates.
Bottles are left whole.  Let's push for more deposit systems. This will
also reduce curbside problems with glass by removing glass beverage

3.  For household recycling, let's try some innovative solutions. In the
south section of Seattle, most recyclable materials are commingled in
60- or 90-gallon toters with a separate (approximately 15-gallon) bin
for glass that hangs onto the larger toter.  Rear-loading packer trucks
collect the recyclables, but the trucks are retrofitted with bins for
glass.  The driver sorts glass by color en route.  (At least this was
Seattle's system when we documented its program for our Cutting the
Waste Stream in Half report. Don't know if it's changed since then.)  In
Europe, many communities have neighborhood drop-off bins and not just
one, but on just about every corner.  This provides convenience but also
keeps glass segregated by color.  I've always been a fan of having
recycling be just as convenient as trash collection.  Will residents
take glass to the corner? or toss it in their trash bin?  Perhaps more
communities might try Seattle's curbside method.

4.  We can and ought to reuse and recycle glass.  It's a question of
balancing several goals:  having a cost-effective program, minimizing
the environmental impact of packaging production and consumption, aiming
for the highest and best use for the recovered material, maximizing
recovery levels, maximizing citizen participation in recovery programs,
and maximizing the quality and quantity of material recovered.  I lean
toward curbside combined with drop-off and a deposit system (and
ultimately a refilling/standardized bottle system) as the way to go.
The challenge is to design a curbside system that minimizes breakage,
maximizes convenience for the household, and keeps costs down.  Seattle
may be one model.  There's more than one way to skin a cat.

Brenda Platt
Institute for Local Self-Reliance

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