NORTH MANKATO —
“The market for green glass has dried up,” Sheran said. “It’s a required recyclable, but there’s nowhere to send it.”
Sheran said she would consider introducing legislation to address the problem when the Legislature returns to session in February. But before committing to that, she wants to know if the glut of green glass is a temporary problem the marketplace will address.
She also wonders if there’s anything the state can do to encourage a market. If that’s not possible, the state could consider charging a fee to companies that use green glass to help cover the disposal costs.
Low or nonexistent demand for green glass has occurred elsewhere, resulting in mountains of the stuff at some recycling centers and prompting some recycling programs to drop it from collections. The glass is as recyclable as brown and clear glass. But once color has been added to glass, it’s there to stay — so green glass can only be recycled into more green glass.
Glass bottles aren’t recycled exclusively into new bottles. They’re also made into fiberglass insulation and other building materials, so the downturn in the construction industry has probably played a role as well in the falling demand.
The revenue side of the Recycling Center’s ledger shows the economic downturn more generally, with declining payments for most recyclables, said North Mankato Finance Director Steve Mork. Still, other materials generate some revenue: $31,000 for newspapers in 2008, $25,000 for cardboard, nearly $21,000 for aluminum.
No. 1 plastics (everything from soda bottles to peanut butter containers) were sold for nearly $14,000, clear glass delivered $4,600 and even brown glass was purchased for $1,627. Green glass brought in $0, and that’s continued in 2009.
“Our revenues are down $60,000,” Mork said of 2009. “... There’s no market. Glass? You can’t get rid of the green.”