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Waco launches glass recycling program, making recycling easier for residents and businesses

Waco, TX (KWTX) – The City of Waco, along with other organizations and corporations in the area, initiated the Glass for Good Community Program to make it easier for residents and businesses to recycle glass materials and help the environment.

Soon, purple containers will be scattered throughout the city in which residents can dump glass jars and bottles.

“Once it’s full, we’ll ship it to the OI plant and it’ll go to the Strategic Materials department for processing,” said Ashley Millerd, Waco City Solid Waste Department Solid Waste Department’s Administrator Public Relations Coordinator. “Then we’ll go back to our Waco plant to turn it into a new bottle.”

Partners, the Waco Department of Solid Waste, Keep Waco Beautiful, Strategic Materials, Inc., plant in Owens Illinois, unveiled the first container on Thursday.

The first container is behind the strip of businesses and bars on Austin Avenue, in an alleyway between North Seventh and Eighth Streets.

These businesses were actually part of a pilot program in 2017 to start recycling glass from Keep Waco Beautiful.

Due to the pandemic and the state of the recycling market, the program has stalled. The market flipped and the program recovered.

“When we first launched this pilot program, everyone laughed at me because there was no market,” Millerd said. “It was cheaper to buy a new cullet [scrap glass that is ready to be recycled] than to pay for its processing and return to the system, but currently the market is in our favor. So it’s cheaper to use recycled cullet.”

Due to the success of the pilot program, the group decided to install the first trash can behind a group of businesses on Austin Avenue.

The trash can is located behind the local bar, Stay Classy Waco. Co-owner Jacob Green said he was thrilled to be able to contribute to Glass for Good.

“We were really just cheerleaders,” he said. “We like it when good things happen. Glass recycling is very important.”

With a new container behind the bar, he said, every night they separate the glass from the rest of the rubbish and throw it in the bin; however, Greene said they have a plan to create a separate blue bin that patrons could drop their glass bottles into.

“It’s completely painless, and it was kind of uncomfortable here,” he said. “Glass processing plant, I think it’s a little out of town, a little inconvenient, but now it’s very convenient. Just buy yourself a little separate box, line it with plastic, just toss your glassware in there for a week, and then at the end of the week take it to one of those trash cans.”

Greene said he hopes other businesses and residents will join the glass recycling business.

Millerd hopes that with more residents and businesses involved in recycling, this will save space in Waco’s landfill.

“Just imagine if we recycled every bar and restaurant, and if everyone had the option, we would save a ton of weight every year,” she said. “It really takes a village to keep this heavy, resilient, always reusable material from ending up in our landfill.”

According to a previous report from KWTX, the landfill was due to be filled in 2025, which would entail the purchase of a new landfill around Axtell.

Millerd hopes that even with plans for a new landfill, the public will start recycling glass materials, not only because it’s easier now, but also because it benefits the community.

“This saves space in our landfill, and the proceeds from recycled glass go back to our nonprofits through United Way,” she said.

Recycled glass may even be back on the shelves in Waco.

“From the moment the glass is ready at their factory, it will likely be back on the shelf here in Waco and elsewhere within 30 to 60 days,” she said.

Glass for Good hopes to add more trash cans to every neighborhood in the city by the end of 2023.

For now, anyone can drop washed cans or bottles in the trash can located behind Stay Classy Waco and between North Seventh and Eighth Streets.

They do not accept glassware such as windows, mirrors, drinking glasses and heat resistant glass.

Millerd also hopes to launch a deposit system in the future. This will allow residents to raise money for glassware recycling.

More information about Glass for Good can be found here.

For Central Texans interested in glass recycling, there are also locations in Killeen and Temple.

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