But system improved at recycling plant
By Laurelle Walsh
Glass is no longer part of WasteWise Methow’s curbside recycling program, but Methow Recycles still accepts glass and puts it to good use locally.
Although the valley’s sanitation company, WasteWise Methow, no longer picks up glass as part of its curbside recycling service, Methow Recycles still accepts glass and has improved the handling and safety of glass recycling at its plant in Twisp by putting the collection bin below grade, allowing customers to dump glass directly into the bin.
“The less we have to handle it, the better,” said Methow Recycles Executive Director Betsy Cushman.
Multiple trips by a forklift driver used to be required in order to lift, transport and dump glass from smaller blue bins at the plant into the 25-cubic-yard roll-off bin. Now the roll-off bin — a giant dumpster that is rolled on and off the bed of a specialized truck — is parked in a pit into which customers can dump their glass.
The new system has been in use since early November and “customers love it,” Cushman said. “People feel safer and it’s easy to use.”
F&S Excavation dug the pit and graded a driveway for the truck; Methow Recycles board member Steve Oulman built a wooden chute into which customers pour their glass bottles. The system allows for even filling of the bin with minimal handling, Cushman said.
WasteWise Methow hauls the full bin, which holds seven tons of glass, to a gravel pit in Winthrop owned by Cascade Concrete, where it becomes inert fill material for the gravel pit.
WasteWise Methow has phased out glass pick-up over the past year, according to co-owner Casey Bouchard. “It was a business decision,” he said.
The sanitation service offers co-mingled recycling to its residential and business customers, but the co-mingled waste stream excludes glass. “Glass is bulky, heavy and breaks,” Bouchard said. “It’s a safety hazard for anyone handling it.”
So for a time, WasteWise sent a second truck around on its run to pick up glass separately. But since the nearest glass recycling plant is 250 miles away at eCullet in South Seattle, glass has no market value here, making it a money loser for WasteWise, Bouchard said.
“[Phasing out glass pick-up] has been toughest on businesses,” said Bouchard. “They’ve had to make adjustments. I had a personal discussion with every customer.”
Glass put into the public recycling barrels in Winthrop and Twisp will go into the landfill, Bouchard said, likewise for any glass in WasteWise’s Blue Bags. Bouchard said he is working on updating the wording on both the Blue Bag cards and the recycling barrels, which still indicate that glass is accepted.
“Of all the things that might end up in the landfill, glass is the least harmful,” Bouchard said. Still, he encourages his customers to take their glass to Methow Recycles. “It’s great that we have an alternative for glass here.”