Fairfax County’s glass recycling plan started as a pilot program in spring 2019, with 12 purple bins sprinkled throughout the county. They averaged about 100 pounds of glass recycled per week in a county with nearly 1.1 million residents. As of Jan. 31, the county had recycled approximately 4.8 million pounds – or about 2,400 tons – of glass through 26 purple can locations, all of which weren’t being recycled in the single-stream system a year ago, according to Forbes. The program is now averaging 1,000 pounds of glass recycled per month, which includes a noticeable uptick since the county stopped collecting glass in curbside bins in October 2019, he says.
“It’s quite a significant increase,” Eric Forbes, the director of recycling, engineering and environmental compliance for the Fairfax County Solid Waste Management Program says, noting that his office went from emptying the bins approximately once per week to now emptying some locations three times per week. The glass is picked up by a truck and dropped off at a processing plant in Lorton, Virginia, he says. Rough cost estimates for the program include $650,000 for the glass processing machine and site work, $10,000 per year for maintenance and approximately $50 per ton for transportation and collection, Forbes says. But the program should yield substantial savings for the single-stream system, he adds.