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Glass recycling not profitable; Red Oak stops, county continues
An inmate pulls items out of the glass recycling Friday afternoon at the Hall County Recycling Center. The glass has to be hand-sorted as people place non-glass items in the glass recycling bins at the compactor sites.

One private hauler of recycled materials will quit accepting glass July 1 for economic reasons, but the Hall County Recycling Center continues to process glass.

Red Oak Sanitation notified its customers recently it will stop accepting glass in the recyclables July 1. The firm cited information from its processor WestRock “there no longer is a market for mixed glass, and they will no longer be accepting or processing glass.”

Bobby Purdum, resource recovery superintendent, said the Hall County Recycling Center still recycles glass, but agreed it is not a money-maker.

“We don’t make any money off of it at all. It’s basically a wash,” Purdum said.

The waste company runs “Recycle for the cure” and donates money raised to the American Cancer Society. Tim Citrone, business development for Red Oak, said the firm has donated $125,000 through the program since 2010.

Citrone said Red Oak has been taking 800 tons of recyclable materials to the processors each month.

“We don’t know how (not taking glass) is going to affect our tonnage,” he said.

The company expects to have accurate numbers about the effects in August, he said.

He explained Red Oak’s competitors stopped accepting glass in the winter or spring. He said his company waited until it was sure no alternative could be found.

“WestRock will grade and inspect individual loads of single stream recyclables,” WestRock wrote in a May 2 letter. “Loads that contain mixed glass may be charged an additional fee up to and including reloading cost to remove from our facility and or rejection.”

Citrone said Red Oak had been paid for glass — rather than have to pay to dump it.

Purdum said the county’s amount of glass increased dramatically when it stopped sorting it. The county did sort glass until 2012. but now it is “the single mixture of all the glass together,” he said.

The center takes “any (glass) container that is drinkable,” he said, adding the recycling center does not take window pane glass. The county sends its glass and plastics materials to Strategic Materials, which has two locations in Atlanta.

The county sent 636 tons of glass to the processor in fiscal year 2015 and 633 tons thus far this year. The fiscal year ends June 30, so the total for 2016 should be about the same as 2015, Purdum said.

He urged county residents to separate plastics and glass as much as possible.

Purdum said broken or compacted glass turns into sand — a “contaminant” in the recycling world.

WestRock, in its letter to Red Oak, said, “Clean recyclable glass bottles and containers are sought after by processors and users of recycled glass. This could be achieved through separate collection of glass or convenient sites for residents or some other method.”

“We don’t foresee anything in the future” about not accepting glass, Purdum said.

He emphasized, however, the recycling center does not accept loads from commercial haulers of waste.

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