Whitehorse Daily Star

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Photo by Vince Fedoroff

DISCUSSING THE CHANGES – Speaking at Wednesday afternoon’s news conference at the Raven Recycling Centre are, left to right, Dave Albisser, the Yukon government’s director of operations; Joy Snyder, Raven’s executive director; Taylor Tiefenbach, the manager of Whitehorse Blue Bin Recycling; Pat McInroy of P&M Recycling; and Geoff Quinsey, the city’s manager of water and waste. Star photo by VINCE FEDOROFF

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Photo by Vince Fedoroff

GLASS DROP-OFFS TO END – The bin for glass recyclables at the Raven Recycling Centre will no longer be available after Nov. 30. Glass liquor and beer bottles will continue to be accepted inside the centre.

Recycling of non-refundable glass products to end

Recycling depots across the Yukon will not be accepting non-refundable glass products such as pickle jars after Nov. 30.

By Chuck Tobin on November 7, 2019

Recycling depots across the Yukon will not be accepting non-refundable glass products such as pickle jars after Nov. 30.

Depot representatives explained during a press conference Wednesday the market for recycled crushed glass is so soft that even recycling depots down south can’t make money on the product because of handling and transportation costs – not unless the glass recycling factory is next door.

All glass products in the Yukon with the exception of beer bottles are currently crushed and trucked to the landfill for ground cover, they explained.

They said all the glass they handle currently – wine bottles, pickle jars, liquor bottles, pasta jars – end up in the landfill as crushed glass.

The pickle jar is still going to end up in the landfill; it’s just going to get there through the regular waste stream and not in the back of the P & M Recycling or Raven Recycling truck, they explained.

They said once that pickle jar gets run over a couple of times by the piece of heavy equipment they use to compact the landfill, the result is going to be the same.

It’s just not economically feasible to handle the non-refundable products, especially when they end in the landfill just like all other glass products, they insisted.

They explained that when they handle and crush the refundable wine bottles, the liquor bottles and the juice bottles, they are being compensated through the surcharge on products under the Beverage Container Recycling program.

When they handle the pickle jar, or thousands of pickle jars, they don’t receive a dime, they explained.

They said the savings in operational expenses they will see by no longer handling non-refundable glass is not going to be huge by any means. But there will be savings, and in the world of recycling depots, every bit counts, they agreed.

Pat McInroy of P & M Recycling said the market for recycled material has fallen substantially across the board in the last three years.

McInroy pointed out when he got into the recycling business 20 years ago, for example, they were being paid $400 for every tonne of recycled cardboard. Today, they get $10 for the same tonne.

Twenty years ago, it cost $850 to ship a truck load down south. Today, it’s somewhere between $2,200 and $2,600, he pointed out.

“It’s a tough time in the industry right now,” McInroy said. “This is the first time we have said we are not taking a certain product.”

McInroy said the recycling business is like a balancing act. On one hand, P & M is making money with recycled aluminum cans, but for most of the plastic products they recycle, they’re not making a penny, or very little.

Doing away with handling non-refundable glass is part of balancing the business model with no real impact to the waste stream because it’s all ending up at the same place – the landfill, he said.

Joy Snyder, the executive director of Raven Recycling, said Raven was approached by a glass recycler down south interested in taking Raven’s crushed glass.

Once they ran the numbers, it just didn’t work, she said.

Snyder said the market prices for recycling are so low right now that depots down south have been forced to close.

There are niche opportunities for crushed glass such as the local company that uses it in making counter tops, but the quantities are small, she pointed out.

Snyder said Yukoners should remove the lids from the glass jars they throw away now because they are recyclable.

Rinsing out the jar is also beneficial because any organic residue left in the jar will give off off greenhouse gas or end up leaching through to the ground water, she explained.

She said the reycling depots put the Yukon government on notice a couple of months ago regarding the decision not to handle non-refundable glass.

The glass bin at Raven Recycling will become another bin for styrofoam after Nov. 30, she said.

Snyder said recycling styrofoam does pay for itself, but just barely.

Comments (16)

Up 11 Down 0

What about our declaration! on Nov 12, 2019 at 4:35 pm

So much for the Declaration of Climate Emergency...

Up 13 Down 2

My Opinion on Nov 10, 2019 at 4:10 pm

The reason they don't ship it south and virtually never have, is that it is heavy and costs a fortune to ship. Burns a ton of Carbon in the process. Also any places that do accept it can get all they will ever need within one square mile of their facility, why would they want ours. More Unicorn belief problems with people these days.

People have to grow up and think things through.

Up 7 Down 2

My Opinion on Nov 10, 2019 at 4:06 pm

No paving or concrete business is going to want glass in their machines, it is completely abrasive and destructive to bearings and hard surfaces. Besides you are just hiding it in another place.

Up 17 Down 1

My Opinion on Nov 10, 2019 at 4:04 pm

Everyone here concerned about glass going in the dump. It is completely inert not a problem.

For fifty years we actually recycled bottles. They went back to the beer and pop companies and were refilled. Back in the days when we also used renewable paper bags instead of plastic. But believe it or not it was the new age thinking Hippies that wanted us to protect the trees and plastic was the answer. Go figure.

Up 5 Down 4

Groucho d'North on Nov 9, 2019 at 5:21 pm

Just thinking out loud here" What if the gravel pit operators and crushers blended ground glass into the natural gravel for various aggregate uses, that would stretch the life of the pit resource, and find a safe happy place for the glass nobody seems to want. I recall years ago Popular Mechanics had a feature of glass mixed into airport runway materials resulting in longer lasting runways and less natural erosion making tire troughs in some heavy use areas rendering them unsafe. A cubic yard of gravel is not coming down in price either, maybe some carbon tax credits could sweeten the pot a bit eh?

Up 12 Down 4

Joe on Nov 9, 2019 at 3:30 pm

Ok Greta, step aside ! adults talking

Up 15 Down 1

And so it goes on Nov 9, 2019 at 11:55 am

"Rinsing out the jar...or end up leaching through to the groundwater." Landfills are designed to take waste residues and ensure resident hold times don't impact water resources. Unless the gov't isn't doing their job. There are water use and cost impacts related to rinsing. The message that not rinsing food waste jars is a risk to groundwater is absurd. No evidenced-based opinions here. Only poor reporting standards. Do a fact check before you print.

Up 9 Down 0

JohnW on Nov 9, 2019 at 2:17 am

Crushed glass is an excellent foundation backfill. Unfortunately the recyclers charge too much for it, so it's not a practical alternative.
The CoW could have granted the builder an energy code credit if crushed glass was used, but that would require some administrative coordination and the CoW Sustainability Dept doesn't seem up to the task. Maybe the Zero Waste folks will do something about it.

Up 2 Down 15

Hoby Irwin on Nov 8, 2019 at 8:35 pm

Why not put a refund charge on all glass jars then refund the money when they are returned to the depot? Works for aluminum and pop bottles.

Up 3 Down 3

Guncache on Nov 8, 2019 at 6:42 pm

They use crushed glass for blasting the same as sand for sand blasting. I wonder if that's feasible to do here. It would have to be crushed to the consistency of sand.

Up 4 Down 3

Yukonnnner on Nov 8, 2019 at 6:04 pm

You do know people have been recycling glass jars for ages and they are then getting thrown in the landfill? This just cuts down on the middleman...too bad it doesn’t cost millions in shipping. Hopefully someone can be creative with glass and get it recycled again.

Up 15 Down 3

Charlie's Aunt on Nov 8, 2019 at 5:35 pm

I must have been living in the clouds as I thought the refundable bottles were sent to be re-used unless they were badly damaged. Now I find out that they go to landfill so it would be cheaper to forego the refund, save the gas going to Raven and crush them myself in the trash compactor. Pretty sure crushed glass can be mixed in asphalt in small quantities as I have seen it sparkling in lighter applications such as driveways, Also think Raven used to sell it to public to mix in concrete and people used to be able buy the used wine bottles for making their own plonk. Just another part of our throwaway society, promoted by the folks who preach recycling.

Up 25 Down 7

Davis on Nov 8, 2019 at 12:19 pm

Who cares if recycling glass bottles is profitable or not? That's not the point. The point is that recycling them is the right thing to do. Besides, what's our alternative option, toss them in the landfill? The landfill costs money to operate as well and is certainly not profitable either.

Up 36 Down 5

Max Mack on Nov 7, 2019 at 10:20 pm

Please remind me why we are funding Raven Recycling and associated "NGOs" to the tune of millions of dollars a year?

Up 27 Down 2

Matthew on Nov 7, 2019 at 8:21 pm

Oh Yukon, so damn concerned about the environment but no one cares enough to create a zero waste recycling program. Sad cause glass can be recycled so many more times than plastic.. nice work, hey, ban plastic straws.. HA

Up 17 Down 6

jc on Nov 7, 2019 at 5:41 pm

Is it possible to mix the crushed glass with asphalt? I thought I heard this was being done down south. Maybe I'm wrong.

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