The region’s recyclers are encouraging towns to cut costs during the economic downturn of COVID-19 by trying new ways of reusing their glass.
Reagan Bissonnette is executive director of the nonprofit Northeast Resource Recovery Association. She says it’s been a couple of years since the sudden closure of the region’s main facility, in Massachusetts, that recycled glass bottles and jars.
Since then, she says more towns have been sending their glass to landfills, adding weight and expense to their trash hauling costs even during the economic strain of the pandemic.
Bissonnette wants more towns to take advantage of cheaper, local options that she says get more value out of that glasss.
Her group helps towns send glass to Canada to become fiberglass insulation, or have it crushed – along with glass-like products such as ceramics and Pyrex – into an aggregate that towns can use as a free alternative to sand and gravel in local road projects.
Bissonnette says the NRRA has 100 towns across Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont — serving half a million residents — participating in these programs. Her group recently launched a new tool to help more towns see the easiest ways and locations to participate.
“I think that in many cases communities aren’t aware that this can be an effective way to both save natural resources and save financial resources,” Bissonnette said.
Bissonnette says cost-effective glass recycling will typically require towns to have residents transition to sorting their recycling by type – rather than using the single- or dual-stream systems that can increase contamination and undermine the recycling process.
But she’s hoping options like these will help local recycling bounce back where it's been impacted by the pandemic. Some towns have suspended part or all of their recycling service due to budget and staffing constraints.