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[GreenYes] Re: Recycling Glass
Additional points on this debate:

(1) The externalized costs for emissions of the 27 
pollutants covered by the EPA DST model are not from 
the EPA. The life cycle emission quantities for 
pollutants assoiated with each type of discarded 
material are from the EPA process. But the cost 
estimates are from the literature of studies on 
impact costs of emissions. This is a large 
literature and I reported the range of cost 
estimates reported in that literature. One 
might "average" those estimates, but for me it's 
more illuminating to note how wide the range of 
estimates is. It denotes the extraodrinary 
difficulty of estimating the cost of pollution.

(2) The interested reader can go to the City of 
Seattle's website and view reported data on 
contaminants (what the processing facility reported 
as having to landfill versus the total tonnage 
collected) for over ten years from three different 
types of curbside recycling collection systems. In 
sume, the northend, weekly pickup three 15 gallon 
bin system (mixed paper, news, and commingled 
containers) had annual contamination rates between 
0.1% and 1.9%. The southend monthly, 90 gallon cart 
plus hang on bin for glass and scrap metal had 
annual contamination rates between 2.7% and 3.3%. 

Seattle changed to a biweekly cart plus separate 
glass bin system in 2000 for the entire city. 
Materials collected were augmented at the same time 
to include all plastic containers, except 
polystyrene, and plastic films and bags. 
Contamination rates have been at about 4% for the 
two years since the changeover.

Even if one assigned a large portion of these 
contaminants to glass, one wouldn't get the 30% to 
50% throw away rates that some folks have been 
talking about as a result of collecting glass 
curbside. Those rates, as far as I can tell, are due 
to a combination of a collection/processing system 
that is not well designed and a failure to develop 
markets for mixed color cullet. To me that's where 
the problem lies. It does not imply we should throw 
glass off the bus.

(3) I don't recall saying that one shouldn't do any 
economic analysis. That would be a rather stupid 
position for an economist in the research and 
consulting business to take. What I hoped and 
intended to say is that the currently collected 
recyclables should all continue to be collected 
because they all contribute to reducing upstream 
ecological and public health impacts caused by using 
virgin raw materials and fossil fuels. In fact we 
should be expanding the range of materials we 
recycle precisely because of those upstream 
benefits, and we should add new materials to 
curbside collections because that is the recycling 
method that competes effectively and efficiently 
with the garbage collection system for 
households.    

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

360-738-0255
360-738-0256 fax
www.soundresource.com or www.zerowaste.com
jeff.morris@zerowaste.com 
                   
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