MERIDIAN — It took several years for Republic Services to find the right partner for glass recycling, but now that they have, it seems to be a successful match.
It’s been almost a year since the city authorized a glass recycling program after Republic found Momentum Recycling in Salt Lake City as a partner to process the material.
“(Momentum has) a great history and they’re still expanding, and glass is just part of their portfolio, they do other types of recycling as well,” said Rachele Klein, business development manager for Republic. “This was just a really lucky find for us, and we gave it to the city and they decided to pilot it.”
The program began in early October 2018, and Klein said they recently shipped their first full load — about 34 tons of glass — down to Salt Lake.
More than 150 Meridian residents have signed up for glass pickup from their homes for an extra $6.47 per month, while others drop their glass recycling off for no charge at the Republic Services Transfer Station, 2130 W. Franklin Road, Meridian.
Klein said Meridian residents are “knocking it out of the ballpark” when it comes to following the rules, too.
“The first couple containers of glass at the drop site and curbside had some basic contamination like corks and bottle caps and things like that, and some of it was in bags, but with some simple outreach, it’s like perfectly clean glass,” she said. “They’ve done a really nice job.”
John Lair, president of Momentum Recycling, said his company only picks up glass loads once they reach a weight close to 40 tons because it is only feasible to run a glass program across distances that way. Momentum picks up loads across the Northwest, including Teton County and several areas in Montana.
“Glass is extremely heavy, which makes it expensive to transport,” Lair said. “… What we’re doing with all of our regional partners is really unusual, most other parts of the country the distances just aren’t that far to transport their glass to a recycler. We’re kind of this unique little island in the middle of the West.”
The first preference for glass recycling is to turn it into more glass bottles, but Lair said that is only feasible at certain facilities that aren’t nearby. The closest ones are in Denver, and transporting glass loads there is far too expensive to make it worth the trip.
Instead, Momentum sends its crushed glass to a fiberglass plant in Nephi, Utah, about an hour-and-a-half away from Salt Lake City. That pink cotton candy-like fiberglass insulation available at Home Depot could very well be locally recycled glass.
Lair added that by using recycled glass for the insulation instead of original materials, the plant uses one-third of the energy it would otherwise use.
“And when that one plant uses more energy than the rest of the town put together, that’s a big deal,” he said.
Now that nearly a year has gone by, Klein said it is up to the Meridian City Council if they want to continue having the drop sites for collections. Thomas Otte, solid waste coordinator for the city of Meridian, said he thinks the program has been “fantastic” and both drop sites are performing well. But he can’t say what the city council will ultimately decide.
“It’s been pretty successful,” Otte said. “We haven’t gotten any complaints about it at all.”