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The glass in your recycling bin may not be getting recycled, officials say

Local governments on the First Coast and across the country are asking people not to put glass into the curbside recycling pickup

JACKSONVILLE BEACH, Fla. — With the holidays here, many people have empty wine bottles or beer bottles to get rid of. Most people think you can toss glass into the recycling bin and it will get recycled but not so fast.

More local governments here on the First Coast and across the country are asking people not to put glass into the curbside recycling pickup.

While tossing them into the recycling bin is a nice idea, much of that glass is winding up in landfills these days.

"It’s cheaper to produce a brand new bottle than it is to recycle glass," Todd Grant said. He is the Deputy Director of Public Works for the City of St. Augustine. 

Recycling glass costs more because of "the intensity it takes to melt down glass. It's a high temperature in order to melt it down," Grant said. "And then to it costs to disinfect it and create a new bottle or another product."

Industry leaders are still trying to tap into cost-efficient ways to use recycled glass such as creating landscaping products or pulverizing it into sand traps at golf courses. "But the demand is not there," Grant said.

Various local governments don’t want to pay to recycle glass. Glynn County is even telling folks to not put glass into recycling bins starting Jan. 1. According to a Glynn County notification, taking glass out of the recycling stream will mean the county will not have to increase the solid waste fee onto property owners.

The City of St. Augustine has a pretty progressive recycling program. However, the glass collected in recycling containers does not get recycled because of costs.

"Although it’s in recycling bins, they will separate that out and dispose of its as trash," Grant explained.

It’s a nationwide issue. In Knox County, Tennessee, glass is also no longer recycled.

Drew Thurman, Director of Knox County Solid Waste told a media crew, "The county didn't choose to end glass recycling. Our contractor told us it doesn't accept it, and that's something we regretfully have to end because of the new contract."

Some communities still recycle glass or offer glass recycling drop-off sites. Check with your local government about where.

Still, glass is more eco-friendly than plastic. You can consider ways to re-use those glass jars and bottles at your home. 

"I’m open to anyone’s ideas how to reduce the use of glass or repurpose it," Grant said.