A new, privately-led initiative to resume the recycling of glass in Rome and Floyd County will start in January.
Teresa Lartundo will partner with a company Strategic Materials to bring a large glass recycling dumpster to Rome on Jan. 8.
The bin will be placed adjacent to the parking area behind Makervillage on North Fifth Avenue.
“We’re going to do a four-month trial period to see if we can fill it up to the top once a month,” Lartundo said. “It seems like we have enough interest so far.”
The market for recycled glass in the U.S. has dropped sharply over the last decade, to the point where the Glass Packaging Institute leaders now believe only a third of recyclable glass product gets collected in the U.S.
The problem, according to a representative for the GPI is that many glass recycling programs across the country have been wrongly gutted because waste management companies and materials recovery facilities are not investing in the correct equipment to recycle glass.
The new recycling program in Rome will involve glass materials that are typically used for food or beverage products. The glass can be any color so long as it is something used around the home but not anything like broken window panes or broken light bulbs.
That kind of product mix, coupled with contamination (unclean waste glass) were a large part of the reason that the local center stopped taking in glass almost five years ago.
“It was a lot easier to tolerate, taking the glass to the landfill,” said Floyd County Public Works Director Michael Skeen. “Glass can be crushed up when it compacts and it doesn’t really take up much cubic space.”
Strategic Materials was the only glass vendor the community had in march 2016 when the program was stopped. The company was founded in 1896 and according to its website, is the largest glass recycler in the country.
Lartundo got interested in recycling years ago. Her interest was further piqued during a trip to Germany in high school where she saw curbside bins that were divided into organic and non-organic materials.
“Recycling reduces our carbon footprint and I made the connection between sustainability and how we should not use virgin materials as much as possible,” Lartundo said.
She is hoping to get approval to one day soon distribute bins to downtown business owners, particularly the restaurants, to fill up and be collected on a regular basis.
Skeen said the majority of the volume of glass that was being taken in before the program stopped was from bars and restaurants.
“That’s not concluded yet but that’s the goal,” said Lartundo.
Emma Wells, director of the Keep Rome-Floyd Beautiful effort said her frequent community cleanups don’t pick up a whole lot of glass, other than an occasional glass beer bottle, but that she thinks many people who are passionate about recycling glass will be happy to have a place to dispose of it in Rome rather than driving to Cobb County.
“I think Romans want to recycle glass and I’m excited about having that opportunity again,” Wells said.