- The brand new Emerald Coast Utilities Authority (ECUA) Materials Recovery Facility (MRF) says it was built with special equipment for processing glass, but officials in Fort Walton Beach, FL want nothing to do with it, as reported by Northwest Florida Daily News.
- City officials have decided to stop accepting glass in single-stream recycling bins because previous recyclers didn't accept it and they believe ECUA will eventually come to the same conclusion. Residents will not be penalized for including glass in their bins.
- This decision comes as the Fort Walton Beach City Council voted on Oct. 11 to sign a contract with ECUA. The new agreement is also expected to save hauler Allied Waste money because it will no longer have to take material to Alabama.
Glass recycling has faced heavy scrutiny lately due to low commodity prices and high processing costs. Waste Management CEO David Steiner has said the material's processing costs may outweigh its environmental benefits and the company moved to exclude it from curbside collection in Houston. Other cities have done the same and glass from Savannah, GA was even temporarily sent to a landfill without the city's knowledge.
These stories support the opinion of Fort Walton Beach officials, but as with any commodity it may not be so simple. Due to its weight glass can still be expensive to dispose of at a landfill and ECUA spokesperson Nathalie Bowers told the Northwest Florida Daily News, "you can't just pick and choose the easy stuff to recycle." Proving that anything can be economically recycled in the right conditions, specialized glass recycling programs in Utah and Missouri have seen success lately.
Despite these mixed opinions, many companies are still very invested in keeping the material viable. Earlier this year, a large group of waste and beverage companies formed the U.S. Glass Recycling Coalition to work through solutions and a regional summit was hosted on the topic in Georgia over the summer.