The new glass drop off program is a partnership of Alaskans for Litter Prevention and Recycling (ALPAR), MOA Solid Waste Services (SWS), RockTenn Recycling, and Central Recycling Services (CRS). SWS has purchased recycling containers for the drop off site from funds received through the recycling surcharge on trash tipping fees. ALPAR will oversee the collection program and share the cost of hauling the material with SWS. RockTenn, the company that operates the Anchorage Recycling Center, is providing the collection site at its drop-off center, and CRS is accepting the materials for processing and use in various end products with hauling provided by Alaska Waste.
CRS will process the glass into glass aggregate for use in local construction projects. CRS operates a state-of-the art construction and demolition debris recycling facility manufacturing a variety of products for the construction industry and diverting a large volume of usable material from the landfill.
The public can begin dropping off their empty, rinsed glass bottles and jars today at the Anchorage Recycling Center off Dowling Road. All colors of glass bottles and jars are accepted; however, they must be empty and have their lids removed. Recyclers are instructed to look for the new “Glass Containers Only” bin, which, like other drop bins for paper, cardboard, steel cans, aluminum cans and plastic bags, bottles and jugs are open to the public 24/7 at the center. The Anchorage Recycling Center will be the only location for glass recycling at this time.
Recyclers should note that glass is not accepted in the curbside recycling programs. Glass cannot be separated from commingled curbside materials, which ships directly to Seattle.
“It has taken a lot of work by a lot of different entities to put together a system for glass recycling that has the best chance of being sustainable long-term,” says Mary Fisher, Director of ALPAR. She said that many residents voiced public support for glass recycling including the Alaska Center for the Environment through their outreach efforts.
Fisher says that key to the decision to move forward was the successful efforts by the Alaska Department of Transportation & Public Facilities (ADOT&PF), Municipality of Anchorage Public Works and Anchorage Water and Wastewater Utility (AWWU) that resulted in approval of new construction specifications which allow glass to be used in local and state construction projects.
According to state engineers, the use of crushed glass will have the potential to decrease the amount of glass going to landfills while at the same time reduce ADOT & PF's need for rock and gravel used in strengthening highway and airport sub-surfaces. The recycling process turns the glass bottles into a usable product that looks like shinny pea gravel and feels like worn beach glass.
ADOT&PF recognizes the value of reducing the amount of waste in landfills,” said Pat Kemp, ADOT&PF Acting Commissioner. "We know recycled products specifically processed and manufactured for construction work will not affect long term performance."
Shane Durand, Project Manager for Central Recycling Services is excited by the ADOT&PF and the Municipality’s move to incorporate glass into construction specs. “Recent approvals by ADOT&PF and the Muni that incorporate recycled content products in their specifications is a major step forward for Alaska’s manufacturing industry and the community. The acceptance of recycled glass in construction materials not only creates a use for the material, it is a long-term, sustainable use that will actually be equivalent and in some cases cheaper than virgin raw materials.”
ALPAR, a non-profit organization supported by Alaskan businesses, has worked on recycling issues since the early 80’s. They initially approached ADOT&PF last year and found an agency willing to tackle the lengthy process of evaluation and vetting crushed glass applications and getting final approval from the Federal Highway Administration. That was finalized on July 31.
“DOT&PF’s new specification for using crushed glass as a construction aggregate will help foster changes to the way we think about and use recycled products all across Alaska. We are excited about the progress that Alaska DOT, Anchorage’s Public Works Department and AWWU is making with using recycled-content aggregates. It will help spur local manufacturing of more green products, create jobs and reduce landfill waste,” said Mary Fisher, ALPAR Executive Director.
Fisher says the challenge for our revitalized community glass recycling program will be to enlighten local contractors and project engineers on the benefits of using crushed glass in local projects. “We are confident that with a sustainable and on-going outlet for the material, glass recycling will be a success in Anchorage.”