Glass recycling being brought back to Marquette County in Fall 2020

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MARQUETTE COUNTY, Mich. (WJMN)- Marquette County Solid Waste Management Authority (MCSWMA) is implementing a new recycling system that includes recycling and repurposing glass again.

The design phase of the project is nearly completed and expected to take place in Fall 2020. The project includes a new facility to process paper, plastic, and metal along with the glass processing facility. It will also include single-stream recycling which means paper, plastic, and metal will all be placed into one bin. This is in place of the dual-stream system where rigid and fibers alternate weekly at the curb.

However, it’s important to note that glass will not be apart of this single-stream recycling system. It will either be a separate collection at the curb (meaning in a separate bin from paper, plastic, and metal), a drop-off location or residents can deliver glass directly to the MCSWMA. All three of these options will be left up to the individual 22 municipalities in Marquette County to decide what route they want to take in regard to collecting the material.

“It is a municipality option, so [the MCSWMA’s] guidance, outreach, and education to the residents of the county is to locate your local municipality to see what your glass collection options are,” said Bradley Austin, MCSWMA’s Director of Operations.

MCSWMA stopped accepting glass in January 2018 due to not managing the material appropriately. This includes the abrasiveness of the material on their equipment and worker’s safety.

“It was a very difficult decision, of course, because recycling glass is an iconically recyclable item. But we were just not managing it properly. We evaluated all commodities and we really wanted to put something together that ultimately allows us to stay more local and be repurposed more locally so we’re looking forward to that,” said Austin.

Depending on the volume of materials received, the repurposed glass can be used as a road sand or construction of roads. There’s also an aggregate material to potentially be used in landscaping applications. MCSWMA has been in contact with Michigan Technological University about the repurposed glass being used in the construction and asphalt industry.

“We really wanted to come up with a program that allowed us to bring the glass back but also have a product that we would be able to use and that’s where the separation at the curb becomes important in order for us to create the products that we want to create.”

A blended financing approach was needed for the recycling project. MCSWMA received an $800,000 grant from the Department of Great Lakes and Energy, monies from the Closed-Loop Fund and a conventional loan.

MCSWMA is also advising residents to keep plastic bags out of the stream as they are a hazard to the equipment, as well as lithium-ion batteries and medical sharps. To find out how to recycle these items properly, you can visit https://mcswma.com/.

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