Canton — City officials are mulling over ways to help residents recycle glass after it was announced that a leading garbage and recycling collector would no longer accept glass bottles placed outside at the curb.
Waste Management representative Vic Knight announced at Thursday night’s work session that beginning July 1, the company would no longer accept glass bottles in the metro Atlanta area.
City Manager Billy Peppers told council members that WestRock, the company that ultimately processes the area’s recycling, informed Waste Management they would no longer accept single-sourced glass recyclables picked up at the curb.
WestRock’s facility, located in west Cobb, is the nearest recycling plant.
Until now, Peppers said, WestRock would have to sort people’s glass recyclables by color into separate piles of green, clear and brown bottles.
“It’s apparently gotten very expensive for them,” he said. “There’s not as much return on the investment.”
Peppers said one option would be for the city to allow people to take their bottles to a bin station along Ridge Road and separate them by color into three recycling containers, adding that the city could then have the segregated bottles hauled off to be recycled.
“We could easily cover that in our existing sanitation fund,” Peppers said, adding that if the option were implemented, the station would need to be manned to ensure bottles were appropriately sorted.
He said implementing such a system would allow residents to continue recycling their glass bottles at little additional cost to the city.
Knight told council members that glass has been a major topic of conversation in the recycling industry for years because of the diminishish returns on glass recycling.
Marla Prince, Waste Management’s senior community relations specialist, said Friday the company would cease its collection of glass bottles because WestRock would no longer accept unsorted bottles picked up curbside.
“It’s not that they are going to stop recycling glass,” Prince said. “It’s just that it’s more difficult to recycle it curbside because it gets broken and because they can’t recycle it until after the colors are separated.”
She said residents wishing to recycle glass would have to take more care with bottles, but said the company would continue collecting paper, plastic and aluminum.
Knight told council members WestRock was able to absorb the cost of dealing with the glass until now because they were making money off other recycled materials.
“Now all the commodities are weighed down because of the world market,” he said, adding that it isn’t just a regional problem, but one that most of the country was experiencing.
He said Waste Management would prefer to continue collecting glass, but said the company operated in 47 states and was seeing the problem everywhere.
Knight told council members that Waste Management would continue collecting glass bottles after July 1, but would leave notes on customers’ bins asking them to remove glass from their recycling in the future.
The company has already halted its collection of glass in Kennesaw, Marietta, Smyrna and parts of Gwinnett County, he said, adding that a number of waste collection companies around the state were telling customers the same thing.
He said several cities and counties have their own recycling stations where residents can come to drop items off to be sorted and hauled away.
City Councilman Bill Grant said creating a center for Canton residents to drop off their bottles was something the city should look into, adding that it wouldn’t be difficult to implement at all.
“To be clear, that option at Ridge Road currently doesn’t exist, but we could explore that as a solution for those citizens who are very passionate about recycling glass,” Grant said.