Recycling glass more efficiently has been the priority of Bill Sutton, Director of Shawnee County Solid Waste, prompting him to partner with Ripple Glass, a glass recycling company based in Kansas City, Mo. Shawnee County sends about 130 tons of glass to a recycling center each month, Sutton said. But he added that if residents stop throwing all their recycling into one bin, less glass would end up in landfills.
During the single-stream recycling process — the process of putting all recyclable items from glass to paper into one recycling bin — glass can break and “contaminate” other recyclable items around it, said Josh Boyer, regional program manager for Ripple Glass. Contaminated recycling ends up in a landfill, he added.
“If (Shawnee County residents) think putting that glass in that single-stream container, if they think it is going to be recycled, it’s not,” Sutton said. “It’s going to be processed and disposed of out there in the landfill.”
Boyer said he is sad when he thinks of all the glass in landfills because it will not break down for “hundreds and thousands of years.” “That is the way glass is. Glass is endlessly recyclable. It doesn’t break down.”
After residents discard glass in one of the five purple bins in Shawnee County, Ripple Glass will take the glass back to its processing plant for recycling. Sutton said the county also plans to phase out the 40,000 outdated waste bin lids with updated versions as old lids break down. The current labels were printed around 2012, when the county asked that residents recycle glass with all their other items.