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[GreenYes] Glass, plastic and steel cans not recyclable, says paper industry executive
Hello All -
 
As someone who worked for the paper industry - I think it's important to separate recyclables when there is an issue of contamination, particularly when it comes to paper and glass.  Paper recycling is the backbone of many recovery programs and the move to single stream collection - commingling paper and glass - is a threat to increased recovery.  In fact, the process to pull it out before the machines is to source separate!!!
 
Collecting paper and glass together doesn't make any sense regardless of your sorting technology. Making a recycled sheet that will hold up to specifications is difficult enough without glass contamination. Wear and tear on the machinery is a issue, especially when you have million of dollars invested in equipment and facilities.  Dr. Burke is merely stating the obvious if we want to continue to recover paper and turn it into a usable product. 
 
I also know that companies like SP Newsprint and others do a lot to get glass out of their paper - but remember that glass shatters!  It's extremely difficult to remove slivers of glass from thousands of tons of recovered paper and/or machinery. 
 
If you don't think commingling glass and paper is problem, you may also want to remember that a lot of recovered paper is made into toilet tissue!!
 
Just my 2-cents!
 
Christine McCoy
 
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While Dr. Burke's comments that "Beverage containers, except for aluminum cans, are not recyclable" is the same line we all hear from people who look at recycling through a microscope rather than a wide-angle lens, his comments about paper making technology raise an interesting issue.  Dr. Burke highlights paper industry innovations such as  de-inking, wax removal, and getting floatable plastics out of the incoming material stream.  Rather than complaining about glass wearing down the machinery, how about creating a process to pull the glass out before it hits those machines?  The paper industry should face up to the fact that Americans love to recycle, especially paper.  The industry is going to have to deal with recycled fiber for the forseeable future, and the recycled fiber is likely to have some degree of glass contamination.  Quit crying about it and get that famous "American ingenuity"! ; to work!

Sharon Gates
Recycling Specialist
City of Long Beach, California
562/570-4694

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