Waco kickstarts glass recycling program, makes recycling easier for residents and businesses

Published: Jan. 25, 2023 at 12:29 PM CST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

WACO, Texas (KWTX) - The City of Waco, along with other organizations and corporations in the area, kickstarted the Glass for Good program in the community to make it easier for residents and businesses to recycle glass materials while also helping the environment.

Purple bins will soon be scattered around the city, offering locations for residents to drop off glass jars and bottles.

“Once it’s full, we’ll go tip it at the O-I Plant, and that goes to Strategic Materials to get processed,” Ashley Millerd, who is the administrator of outreach coordinator for the City of Waco Solid Waste Department, said. “Then, right back to our Waco plant to turn it into a new bottle.”

The partners, the City of Waco Solid Waste Department, Keep Waco Beautiful, Strategic Materials, Inc., Owens-Illinois Plant, introduced the first container Thursday.

The first bin is behind a strip of businesses and bars on Austin Ave. in an alleyway between North Seventh and Eighth streets.

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

Because of the pandemic and the conditions of the recycling market, the program was stalled. The market flipped, and the program picked back up.

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

Because of the success with the pilot program, the group decided to put the first recycling bin behind the group of businesses in Austin Ave.

The bin is behind local bar, Stay Classy Waco. The co-owner, Jacob Green, said he was thrilled to be able to contribute Glass for Good.

“We were just cheerleaders, really,” he said. “We like to see good things happen. Glass being recycled is important.”

With the new container behind the bar, he said, every night, they separate the glass from the rest of the trash and toss it in the bin; however, Green said they do have a plan in place to get a separate blue bin for patrons to throw their glass bottles in.

“It’s totally painless, and it was kind of inconvenient here,” he said. “The glass recycling facility, I think that’s a little outside the city, slightly inconvenient, but, now, it’s very convenient. Just get yourself a little separate box, line it with some plastic, just toss your glassware in there over the week, and then at the end of the week, take it on down to one of these bins.”

Green said he hopes other businesses and residents will join in recycling glass.

By more residents and businesses participating in the recycling, Millerd hopes this will save some space in the Waco landfill.

“Just imagine if we recycled in all bars and all restaurants, and if everyone had that opportunity, that’s a ton of weight that we would save annually,” she said. “It really takes a village to keep some of this heavy, sustainable, always reusable material out of our landfill.”

Based on a previous report by KWTX, the landfill was expected to be filled in 2025, triggering the purchase of a new landfill around Axtell.

Even with plans of a new landfill in place, Millerd hopes the community will start recycling their glass materials not only because it is easier to do so now but also because it comes with benefits for the community.

“It saves the space in our landfill, and the proceeds from the recycled glass gets back into our nonprofit areas through United Way,” she said.

The recycled glass could even make it back on the shelves in Waco.

“From the time that the glass is tipped at their plant, it’ll likely be back on a shelf here in Waco and other areas within 30 to 60 days,” she said.

Glass for Good is hoping to add more recycling bins in each district in the city by the end of 2023.

For now, anyone can drop off cleaned jars or bottles in the bin 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 eventually start a deposit system in the future. This would allow residents to collect money from recycling glassware.

More information on Glass for Good can be found here.

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