Here is a letter I sent today to some NC state Senators concerning what we can do about glass recycling:
I am writing you about the need for glass recycling in North Carolina. I work in management at a plant in Lexington, North Carolina for Owens-Illinois, the largest glass container manufacturer in the United States. My job involves both purchasing and processing recycled glass, and so I am intimately involved with glass recycling here in our state.
I understand that bill number S 215, The Litter Reduction Act of 2007, was introduced back in February. By placing a deposit on all containers, including glass, more glass would be recycled and less waste would be sent to our landfills.
My plant purchases cullet, recycled glass, from as far away as Detroit, Michigan and Massachusetts. This increases the cost of cullet to more than $30 a ton over what we can get from in-state. Most of this added cost is due to freight expense. If the cullet we need were readily available in North Carolina, we would save a significant amount in freight expense as well as reduce the amount of gasoline used in intrastate shipping.
Also, the quality of cullet from bottle bill states is significantly better than cullet purchased from in-state. One of our highest rejects at our factory is due to “stones.” A stone is an inclusion of contaminate material in a glass container, and can cause as much as 0.5% of rejected ware at my facility. A stone can be a point of stress in the bottle. If it is not caught by our inspection machines, it is possible that it can be sent to a filling line and literally explode. Most stones are due to contamination from in-state cullet. Cullet processed in North Carolina comes from what is called “3-mix”: plastic, aluminum and glass from curbside recycling. “3-mix” also has contaminates such as pottery, porcelain, cookware, rocks, and all kinds of metals which cannot be melted in our furnaces and end up as stones. “Bottle bill” glass is processed from deposit container programs which do not have the amount of contamination seen in curbside recycling.
Finally, the more glass that is recycled instead of sent to a landfill, the less natural gas and electricity is used in glass manufacturing. For every 10% of cullet used instead of virgin batch materials, there is an energy savings of about 100,000 BTUs per ton of glass melted.
I urge your support in the passage of S 215. It makes good business sense as well as good environmental practice. It’s a win-win for my company, our community, and the state of North Carolina. Please contact me at your convenience if you have any questions concerning this matter.