26 Apr 2012

BGSU’s Lack of Glass Recycling Linked to Cost

Author: dlemle | Filed under: BGSU, Enterprise Story, Spring 2012, Student Contributor

By Dan Lemle

Lance Kruse, a math education major at Bowling Green State University, does his best to lead a “green” lifestyle.

“I think there’s a huge importance in taking action on a daily basis to help the Earth,” Kruse said.

On campus, Kruse takes his bike instead of a bus, eats all that he puts on his plate at the dining facilities, and recycles paper, plastic and cardboard. But unfortunately, he cannot always recycle glass.

At BGSU, recycling stations are found in most of the residence halls, but glass recycling is not widespread throughout campus and hasn’t been since 2009, although, residents of Bowling Green can recycle glass at the city’s recycling center.

“Three years ago, glass recycling was found everywhere as a commodity. It was done away with for a number of reasons,” said Nick Hennessy, sustainability coordinator for the university.

The main reason that glass recycling is not found throughout all of campus is cost-related. In addition to this, it is dangerous for the workers who have to sort through the glass and it also causes a lot of wear on the recycling equipment.

“From what I understand, the market where they would take the glass dried up,” Hennessy said. “No one would buy it.”

According to Hennessy, glass recycling has two benefits. First, all types of glass can be melted down and turned into other products. Secondly, money can be made from companies purchasing the collected glass.

“It’s a money-making venture. We recycle and sell it to a buyer on a per pound basis,” Hennessy said.

According to Brooke Mason, BGSU student and chief sustainability chair for the student group Net Impact, students have been working to bring glass recycling back to all of campus since 2011.

“We’ve been talking to Owens Illinois because they use glass in their manufacturing process. Currently, we are at a standstill because Owens Illinois keeps canceling our meeting with them for the past few weeks,” Mason said. “It looks like if we do get it back, it’ll eventually branch out to academic buildings over time.”

In addition to this, Net Impact and the Office of Sustainability host trash audits where students can see how wasteful they’ve been, a program that enables students to utilize bikes instead of the campus buses, and a light bulb exchange which helps educate about saving energy, just to name a few.

According to Ken Rieman, director of the Wood County Solid Waste District, at one time glass would sell for $50-$70 per pound. Nowadays, a maximum of $40 per pound is available, and that’s only for certain types of glass. Then, other costs, such as a shipping fee, are taken off.

“If it had the market value of gold, you would collect it. It costs more to ship the material than it’s worth,” Rieman said.

Due to the lack of opportunity to make money, the only areas on campus where glass recycling is found are in the residence halls, excluding Harshman. According to Hennessy, in these buildings, resident advisor staffs and hall councils initiate the collection and transfer the glass to Bowling Green’s Recycling Center, across from Poe Road. Glass that is collected at the center is then shipped to a processing plant in Dayton, Ohio.

Curbside glass recycling was available to the residents of Bowling Green from 1998 until 2008, until the city did away with it due to rising costs.

“We need to get money back to support it. It isn’t paying for itself,” Rieman said.

According to a resource recovery facilities report conducted by the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, Wood County recycled a total of 4,595 tons of recyclable materials in 2009. The Bowling Green Recycling Center collects 6.5 million pounds or recyclable products a year.

“When you start putting all the negatives together, it doesn’t make sense. We can only hope the glass market will develop,” Rieman said.

A recycling station on BGSU's campus. Taken by Dan Lemle.


View Bowling Green Recycling Center in a larger map

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One thought on “BGSU’s Lack of Glass Recycling Linked to Cost

  1. Phillip Martin Says:

    I thought your outside sources were pretty good. Now a days, I don’t hear that much about recycling in the media.