HRRA backs pilot glass-sep­a­ra­tion pro­gram

The News-Times - - NEWS - By Ka­t­rina Ko­ert­ing

DAN­BURY — Glass will be re­cy­cled separately from the rest of the sin­gle-stream ma­te­ri­als col­lected at area trans­fer sta­tions.

The Housatonic Re­sources Re­cov­ery Au­thor­ity on Fri­day en­dorsed a two-year pilot pro­gram — the first of its kind in the state — to col­lect glass in sep­a­rate con­tain­ers at all nine of the re­gion’s trans­fer sta­tions. The goal is re­duce con­tam­i­na­tion in re­cy­cling and make the ma­te­rial more prof­itable in a stricter mar­ket.

While prof­itable when it’s clean, glass be­comes a con­tam­i­nant as it breaks through the re­cy­cling process and at­taches to other ma­te­ri­als.

“It is a test, but hope­fully this won’t be tem­po­rary,” said Jen­nifer Heaton-Jones, the au­thor­ity’s ex­ec­u­tive director. “It will be­come a per­ma­nent so­lu­tion.”

Bethel, Dan­bury, Kent, New­town, Red­ding and Ridgefield al­ready have their sep­a­rate con­tain­ers or the con­tain­ers are on the way. New Milford, Bridge­wa­ter and New Fair­field still need to get the con­tain­ers.

The au­thor­ity’s ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee is re­view­ing the con­tract with Oak Ridge Waste and Re­cy­cling, which will bring the glass from the trans­fer sta­tions to a glass-pro­cess­ing fa­cil­ity.

The state Depart­ment of En­ergy and En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion needs to ap­prove the pilot pro­gram but has given the au­thor­ity the go-ahead to start sep­a­rat­ing the glass at the trans­fer sta­tions. Re­mov­ing glass from curb­side re­cy­cling will have to wait un­til the pilot is ap­proved.

A large rea­son for the pilot is China’s pol­icy to crack down on what ma­te­ri­als it col­lects and strictly en­force the 0.5 per­cent con­tam­i­na­tion rate. This stricter rate has driven up tip­ping fees be­cause haulers aren’t getting the rev­enue they used to by sell­ing the ma­te­ri­als they col­lect.

Heaton-Jones said it makes the most sense to do the pilot as a re­gion to elim­i­nate con­fu­sion about how dif­fer­ent towns are re­cy­cling glass and can be ex­em­plars for the state. She said each trans­fer sta­tion will still fol­low its own per­mit poli­cies and fees for how ma­te­ri­als are re­cy­cled.

Some haulers have said they won’t col­lect the glass separately and res­i­dents will have to bring it to their lo­cal trans­fer sta­tion on their own, while oth­ers have said they would col­lect it out of sin­gle stream at the curb. The au­thor­ity is of­fer­ing a half-price tip­ping fee for the glass brought by haulers, Heaton-Jones said.

Heaton-Jones said mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties all over the coun­try are tack­ling how to han­dle the tighter re­stric­tions and many are do­ing this by elim­i­nat­ing glass from sin­gle stream.

“We didn’t just pull this out of a hat,” she said. “This is hap­pen­ing ev­ery­where.”

Right now, the con­tam­i­na­tion rate go­ing into Oak Ridge from the re­gion is 10 to 15 per­cent. Bill Ad­ulet, with the com­pany, said the glass and trash be­ing added to the re­cy­cling are the big­gest prob­lems and in­creas­ing their costs, which is why they re­quested the au­thor­ity in­crease the tip­ping fee from $55 a ton to $65 a ton at Fri­day’s meet­ing.

He said they plan to mon­i­tor the re­cy­cling and glass to de­ter­mine a base­line and how the rate changes through­out the pilot. He said it will be im­por­tant to make sure peo­ple are only putting glass in the sep­a­rate con­tainer and not plas­tic bags too.

“There are com­pa­nies that have zero con­tam­i­na­tion,” he said. “They don’t want to hear it. That’s why we have to be so dili­gent.”

Heaton-Jones said they need to bet­ter ed­u­cate the pub­lic on re­cy­cling and sug­gested vol­un­teers look at what peo­ple are bring­ing.

“If the con­tam­i­na­tion rate is 10-15 per­cent and the mar­ket is less than 1 per­cent, we have a lot of work to do,” she said.

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