Permanent glass recycling station now in Hampton

By Paul Ploumis

Hampton residents who shudder at the thought of their glass jars, jugs and bottles being buried in a landfill now have their own place to make sure it gets recycled.

With the help of the Pennsylvania Resource Council, the township has set up a permanent glass recycling station near the salt storage facility in the municipal complex.

Manager Chris Lochner said the need for the service began nearly two years ago when the township’s waste hauler notified officials that while it would still honor its contract to collect glass from the curb along with paper and plastic, the glass would not get recycled.

“Waste Management told us that the market for glass was falling apart in China, which was their biggest customer, so it wasn’t worth it for them to recycle it,” Lochner said.

The manager said the idea of sending glass to the landfill didn’t seem like a very good solution, so township officials began looking for alternatives to curbside collection.

“It took a long time to teach people to recycle, and we didn’t want to lose that with respect to glass,” he said.

To gauge interest in an independent recycling program, assistant manager Susan Burnett and state Rep. Lori Mizgorski hosted a series of temporary collection events.

“We thought we’d maybe have to empty the dumpster once a day,” Lochner said. “But we ended up emptying two of them twice a day. It was amazing how many people came to dump boxes and boxes filled with glass.”

The success of the collection events in the spring, fall and again last month prompted discussion about setting up a permanent station.

After making arrangements with Waste Management to exclude glass from its trash pickup contract with the township, a dumpster was leased and set up near the salt shed, which is monitored by surveillance cameras. The temporary stations were located near the swimming pool.

If the new station gets enough regular use, the township will consider purchasing one of its own instead of leasing, Lochner said.

Discarding glass at a dedicated recycling station helps solve a major problem haulers have faced when glass is comingled with paper, cardboard, metal and plastic.

Mixing glass in with other material, known as single-stream recycling, can contaminate the entire batch if the glass breaks. When that happens, the entire batch ends up in a landfill instead of getting reused.

Waste haulers say the broken glass damages the conveyor belts used for sorting and there is no cost-effective way to remove broken glass from a pile of recyclables — workers have to sift through the pile and pick it out by hand.

Ashley DiGregorio of the Pennsylvania Resource Council said glass collected at dropoff sites ends up at a facility that typically will fully recycle the material within 30 days.

Hampton is the second community this year that has taken steps to ensure residents have an option for recycling glass.

Through an arrangement with the PRC, Ross recently created a glass recycling station at its public works facility along Cemetery Road.

The recycling stations are open to residents of any community. Glass jars, jugs and bottles of any color can be discarded after they have been rinsed clean. No bags or boxes are permitted in the dumpster and can not be left at the site.

Hampton’s municipal complex is located at 3101 McCully Road.