Ask Eartha: The ins and outs of glass recycling
Why can’t we put glass in the recycling at my residence in Frisco? It’s not a problem at my home in Houston. Is there someplace nearby where I can recycle my glass?
Having different rules for recycling from state to state, or city to city, can be confusing. The most important thing is to know the local guidelines, which in Summit County means separating glass. Keep in mind that there are some major benefits to separating glass. For example, glass is far heavier than say, aluminum, which means it takes a lot more energy to transport glass. The less we move glass, the less energy and gas we use, fewer emissions are released, and the better it is for our planet. And moving glass too far could use so much energy that it becomes cost prohibitive to recycle it at all. Let’s talk about how that shapes glass recycling in Summit County.
Glass recycling 101
Glass is one of the most important items to recycle because it can be recycled repeatedly, forever! This is what is referred to as infinitely recyclable. When we recycle our glass, the bottle manufacturers don’t need to mine for new material. In fact, over a ton of natural resources are conserved for every ton of glass recycled. Using recycled glass in place of new material also lowers the amount of carbon dioxide that enters the atmosphere during the glass making process. Talk about being good for the planet!
The other cool property about glass is that it can be recycled back into new bottles. That’s right, the glass bottle or jar that you place in the glass recycling bin can be turned right back into another bottle or jar. When glass is mixed in with other recyclables (single-stream recycling), it breaks into tiny shards that get stuck in the paper and plastic. The glass that can be recovered from single-stream recycling typically becomes fiberglass, which becomes trash at the end of its life. When glass is separated — as it is here — it gets recycled repeatedly!
Our ‘Golden’ opportunity
Another (perfectly fitting) piece of the glass recycling puzzle is our proximity to a glass manufacturer. Located just 67 miles away, the Rocky Mountain Bottle Co. turns our old glass into new beer bottles for Molson Coors. The entire process only takes 30 days! Now that’s impressive.
But please remember: not all glass is created equally. Recycle only glass bottles and food jars (think salsa). Heat-treated glass, such as windows, ovenware, Pyrex and crystal are not accepted locally for recycling.
Local glass recycling
Let’s get back to your original question about where to recycle glass. You’re in luck: Summit County is home to 17 glass recycling stations spread across the county. The three drop-off recycling centers — located in Breckenridge, Frisco and Silverthorne — are a one-stop shop to recycle glass, plastic bottles and jugs (no. 1 and no. 2 only), aluminum, paper, cardboard, cartons (milk, juice, broth), and even food scraps. If you’re dropping your glass at these locations, please separate the clear from the colored glass and put them in the appropriate bin.
You can also find small glass-only depots located in neighborhoods around the county. At these depots, there’s no need to sort your glass by color. And, new locations are popping up around town. In fact, new depots were recently added at Walter Byron Park in Frisco and the North Shuttle Parking Lot in Keystone. Check out the handy map on the High Country Conservation Center’s website to find the most up-to-date information for a glass depot near you. Wish you had a glass depot in your neighborhood? Reach out to the High Country Conservation Center to see how they can help.
The next time you finish a jar of salsa (or a bottle of beer, jar of jam, the list goes on), give that glass new life by recycling it at your neighborhood glass station. It might just end up on the same store shelf from which you purchased it! For more information on what’s accepted for recycling in Summit County, visit HighCountryConservation.org.
Ask Eartha Steward is written by the staff at the High Country Conservation Center, a nonprofit dedicated to waste reduction and resource conservation. Submit questions to Eartha at firstname.lastname@example.org. Christy Turner is a recycling specialist for the center.
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