GreenYes Archives
[GreenYes Archives] - [Thread Index] - [Date Index]
[Date Prev] - [Date Next] - [Thread Prev] - [Thread Next]

[GreenYes] Re: Recycling Glass

This is a very useful analysis:  exactly what I was suggesting needs to be done.  It is interesting that, at least with this level of accuracy, glass is not coming out that badly.  However, there are a couple of modifications that would, I think, provide a clearer picture of what is really going onl:

1)  Replacing wide ranges with expected values would give a better sense of what is most likely.  

2)  Discounting the value of recovered materials to reflect residual rates (i.e., if you collect one ton of glass, but normally only market 70% of it because 30% is mixed and broken, the value you apply to glass should only be 70% of what you show.

3)  Applying further discounts to any materials that cross-contaminate other waste streams, reflecting the losses they cause.  In this case, the full reduction in value in marketing paper with glass shards would be applied to the glass waste stream.

Other more general questions/points:

1)  Do you know what is causing the massive range on the EPA benefits values?  The aluminum value specifically spans an order of magnitude.

2)  With regards to putting as many materials as you can on the bus, I continue to disagree.  You need to make some choices, at least in the short term, as the marginal cost of handling specific materials gets higher and higher.  In the long-term, you can address these problems through forcing the costs of waste management back more directly on the producers.  This will expand your options by improving technologies, forcing them to bear some of the costs, or triggering packaging changes.  However, in the short-term, forcing these costs on municipalities only puts their core recycling programs at risk.  Clearly some of this is already going on:  how many programs in the country are collecting plastic films from consumers, even if recovery is technically possible?

You state that a well designed collection program can handle glass and many other materials economically.  Most of recycling program managers on this list who have posted on the glass thread have expressed large concerns over their abilities to do so, and reported very high residual and contamination levels.  They would certainly benefit from your insights on how they can better control their problems.



Doug Koplow
Earth Track, Inc.
2067 Massachusetts Avenue - 4th Floor
Cambridge, MA  02140
Tel:  617/661-4700
Fax: 617/354-0463

>>> "Jeff Morris" <> 03/15/02 01:29AM >>>
Here's the data on upstream externalized benefits 
from recycling versus landfilling various materials 
based on just the 27 pollutants included in the 
EPA's DST model:

Mixed Paper $0 - $74; ONP $ -17 to 233; OCC $3 to 
$65; Glass $18 to $68; ALM $175 to $1684; 
Tin/ferrous metals $19 to $86; PET $47 to $322; HDPE 
$21 to $133.

So looking at that list it looks as if we decide 
that glass goes, then mixed paper, cardboard and 
tin/ferrous metals go, too. I.e., once you start to 
throw materials off the bus it's a downward slippery 

But let's look a little further. Here's another 
interesting little table (from our 1998 study on the 
Economic and Environmental Benefits of Beverage 
Container Recycling for MASSPIRG and from the 
National Solid Waste Management Association studies 
on curbside collection costs and processing costs)

Internalized range of costs for curbside recycling:

Mixed paper $82 to $159 
ONP $85 to $148
OCC $85 to $149
glass $105-$201
PET $1051 to $1696
HDPE $1109 to $1657
Alm  $599 to $1111
Tin $247 to $435

And here's the price range for these materials in 
the Pacific Northwest:
Mixed paper $-14 to $136
ONP $30 to $230
OCC $43 to $240
Glass $3 (average including mixed broken cullet) to 
PET $93 to $737
HDPE $107 to $564
ALM $533 to $1480
TIN $-10 to $55

So let's compute the net internalized plus 
externalized cost/benefit for the various materials 
on the bus using the formula: Material Revenue + 
Externalized Upstream Benefits - Collection & 
Processing Costs. Let's create the range with high 
end revenue and high end upstream benefits combined 
with low end costs to get the best case, and low end 
revenues and low end upstream benefits combined with 
high end costs to get the worst case:

Mixed paper $128 down to $ -173
ONP $378 down to $-135
OCC $220 down to $-103
Glass $8 down to $-180
PET $8 down to $-1556
HDPE $-412 down to $-1529
ALM $2565 down to $-403
TIN/Ferrous $-106 down to $-426.

On this basis glass ranks above PET, HDPE and 
TIN/ferrous, and even above aluminum in the worst 
case. So would you internal cost or internal + 
external cost calculators throw all these types of 
containers off the bus? 

What Ric Anthony said bears repeating : Let's 
include more materials on the bus, not begin 
throwing things off. I would add that a well 
designed collection and processing system can deal 
with glass quite well, thank you very much. It can 
also collect aluminum foil, flexible plastic 
packaging, and all types of plastic containers as 
well. The way to the future is to be inclusive; the 
way to the demise of recycling is to begin to throw 
out materials for this or that short-run reason.

Finally, for John Reindl - most of this info is in 
one article or another in The Monthly UnEconomist or 
in SRMG studies downloadable from our website  What's not yet there will eventually 
get there when I have time to donate to getting 
these data out.

Dr. Jeffrey Morris
Sound Resource Management - Bellingham Office
112 Ohio Street, Suite 202
Bellingham, WA 98225

360-738-0256 fax or 
To post to the greenyes list,
email to: 

Subscription information for
this list is available here: 
To post to the greenyes list,
email to:

Subscription information for
this list is available here:

[GreenYes Archives] - [Date Index] - [Thread Index]
[Date Prev] - [Date Next] - [Thread Prev] - [Thread Next]