- The glass that Chattanooga, TN residents have thrown into their 96-gallon curbside recycling containers since September 2014 has been going to the landfill. Orange Grove Center, the nonprofit that has the contract to sort recyclables, is not equipped to remove broken glass from the single-stream containers.
- Glass from nearby East Ridge and Signal Mountain also goes to landfills because the materials recovery facility owned by WestRock, formerly RockTenn, can't sell it profitably, according to Mike Fitzgerald, with WestRock. Therefore, the crushed glass gets spread as landfill cover.
- Orange Grove is trying to raise $1.6 million for new equipment designed to let the glass fall out of the mix. So far, the center has received pledges for $770,000.
Yet Chattanooga residents are eager to recycle. City figures showed 22,423 residents participating in single-stream recycling in June 2015, up from 17,634 in September 2014. Collections also climbed to 417 tons in June, up from 222 tons in September.
Chattanooga Public Works Director Lee Norris was apparently unaware the glass wasn't being recycled, according to the Times Free Press. "I can't say yea or nay on that one," said Norris. "All we do is deliver it to [Orange Grove]; they take care of it from there."
The Times Free Press recommends that residents, for now, do not mix glass with other recyclables in a single-stream container. Instead, residents should drop it off at a Hamilton County or city recycling center. Orange Grove Center stores this pre-sorted glass and sells it for $9 a ton to Strategic Materials in Atlanta.