The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Local News

October 26, 2009

No market for recycled green glass

North Mankato wants relief from mandate

NORTH MANKATO — The state requires that green glass be collected as part of recycling programs, so it is. And because it is collected, most residents rinse out the green wine and beer bottles, place them on the curb each week and fully expect the glass is beginning a journey that ends with a new bottle being produced from the old one.

Problem is, nobody wants the green glass.

So North Mankato and Nicollet County, which operate a joint recycling center on the city’s north side, wonder what purpose is served by continuing to collect a product that’s destined to end up in the landfill. And they want the state to either come up with a way to spur demand for green glass or put an end to the requirement that it be collected along with the other items that actually get recycled.

“Either you amend what you require to be recycled or you create incentives or disincentives in the marketplace,” said North Mankato City Administrator Wendell Sande of what the state needs to do. “... It’s not fair to have a mandate that you can’t fulfill. You’re required to take something, but you have nowhere to take it (to be reused) in the end.”

Nicollet County commissioners brought the issue to state Sen. Kathy Sheran this week, asking that something be done.

Sheran, DFL-Mankato, serves on the Senate Environment and Natural Resources Committee, but last week marked the first time she’s heard about the green glass problem. That might be because the problem has gotten worse, she said. Or it might be that local governments, facing extreme budget problems due to cuts in state aid, are scouring their spending for any expenses that can be eliminated.

And they’re also looking more closely at state mandates that cost local governments money — mandates the Legislature could potentially eliminate. Either way, the glass glut is a problem.

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