- Waste Connections of Tennessee has announced it will suspend glass recycling across its eastern Tennessee region starting on Jan. 1, 2017, as reported by Recycling Today.
- The change will affect five cities in the region including Knoxville. The City of Knoxville announced earlier this month that it would also halt its curbside glass recycling program in 2017.
- In a press release, Waste Connections Municipal Marketing Manager Doug McGill explained that WestRock, which had been processing the recyclables, no longer wants the glass and has therefore left Waste Connections with no end market in the area.
Waste Connections of Tennessee's announcement follows a trend of companies backing away from glass recycling, and McGill explained in a press statement that the decision to halt the collection of glass "will preserve the overall integrity of our recycling program." This sentiment was similarly expressed by Waste Management earlier this year, however there are plenty of industry groups that have made it a priority to ensure that glass recycling continues and the material stays out of the landfill.
The City of Knoxville's recent decision to also remove glass from the curbside recycling program followed a report that cited cost issues. While the city has assured customers that it will keep drop-off centers open for glass collection, a return of curbside glass recycling in the area does not seem likely any time soon.
While it has been a rough year for many recycling businesses due to volatile commodity prices, the bottom may have been seen this year. Waste Management and Republic Services reported a double digit increase in commodity prices, reflected in both companies' third quarter earnings, however neither company is shifting gears too quickly. Moving into 2017 — especially toward upcoming fourth quarter earnings reports — it will be interesting to see if markets stay favorable enough for industry professionals to keep up with traditional recycling operations.