A deal recently struck with the nation’s largest supplier of recycled glass will ensure Moore County can provide residents with a long-term viable solution for glass recycling.
But the new arrangement will require extra work for those who want to recycle glass rather than just toss it into the trash.
“This is a collaborative effort that resolves one of the major hurdles we have been trying to work through with glass recycling,” said Chad Beane, Moore County’s solid waste director.
Plans call for Strategic Materials Inc. to refurbish a glass “bunker” — basically a storage area at the Moore County transfer station off N.C. 5. The area stopped being used when the county went from a dual stream to a single stream recycling program around a decade ago.
But residents in Aberdeen and Pinehurst who had curbside recycling collection eliminated as of Jan. 1 still won’t be able to resume putting glass into their cans with their paper, plastic and aluminum. Instead, residents from all areas of the county can take their glass products to one of seven county recycling convenience centers and drop them off there at the collection site.
For years, many local residents have enjoyed what’s known as a “single-stream” recycling collection. Recyclable materials are collected en masse and compacted at one of seven county-maintained sites prior to hauling. Municipalities who paid in to the county's program could also bring their curbside recycling to the transfer station, where it was co-mingled and then hauled at a per-ton cost to a nearby materials recovery facility, or a MRF.
This had been going on at a cost of $25 a ton, but that price recently shot up to $100 a ton due to a constellation of issues in the marketplace, both foreign and domestic. In mid-November, Pinehurst and Aberdeen leaders learned from Beane that the county’s contracted MRF was quadrupling the fee, prompting both towns to ditch glass from their curbside recycling programs to reduce the overall weight of their recyclables.
Southern Pines and Robbins contract privately for garbage and recycling services, and some smaller municipalities do not offer recycling programs at all.
The new public-private partnership, expected to begin by Feb. 1 between Moore County and Strategic Materials, will ensure glass recycling services can continue in this area, though it will require more effort by residents wanting to recycle.
Strategic Materials has been in the glass recycling business for over 100 years and operates several plants in North Carolina, including a large processing facility in Wilson.
State law requires all bars and restaurants to recycle glass and through its subsidiary, BevCon. Strategic Materials was already handling pickups and waste connections for the commercial market in this area. But the company recently lost its aggregation site in Laurinburg.
“It was no longer economically feasible to haul the commercial glass to Wilson and we were about to disenfranchise all Moore County folks,” said Bill Clark, general manager of Bevcon and the regional sourcing development manager for Strategic Materials. “But we put our heads together with Chad and came up with a plan.”
He credited Beane, whom he described as “one of the most enlightened solid waste managers in the state,” with helping to broker the deal that will allow Strategic Materials to store glass at the bunker prior to pickup, benefiting both parties.
New glass sorting containers will be installed at each of the county-maintained collection sites, where it can be collected separate from other recyclable materials, before it is hauled to the glass bunker at the transfer station.
“This is a win-win for everybody,” said Clark. “For a minimal amount of work on the county’s part, we were able to solve the glass recycling issue for the long term. This is not just a short term fix.”
He anticipated glass will be hauled to Wilson once or twice a month. Once processed, it will be recycled into various products including abrasives, bottle cullet, and fiberglass.
"The use of recycled glass in our end markets – such as back into glass container manufacturing – is produced at a lower temperature, which results in energy savings and CO2 emissions savings when making new bottles," said Laura Hennemann, Strategic Materials vice president for marketing and communications.
Glass can be endlessly recycled and durable; but, if placed in a landfill will take thousands of years to full degrade.
Hennemann added, "It’s a story that residents can feel good about – they are rest assured it is not going to the landfill and may also help encourage them to use the new bunker option or patronize a restaurant that is recycling glass."
“This is a case where you are helping us and we are helping you,” Clark said. “It is a win-win all around.”
Collection Site Locations
Cameron: 276 Cranes Creek Road
Carthage: 5361 U.S. 15-501, Carthage
Midway: 10496 N.C. Highway 24-27 West, Carthage
Robbins: 1465 Leaman Road
Eagle Springs: 363 Eagle Springs Road
West End/Seven Lakes: 561 Love Grove Church Road
Landfill: 456 Turning Leaf Way, Aberdeen