It is the end of recycling as we know it… glass recycling that is.
Starting today, the company that provides that service for Spartanburg and Greenville counties will no longer accept glass. That means that all of the bottles and jars that would normally be recycled will find their way into landfills.
But one upstate county already has a solution. The question is, will it work elsewhere?
When you’ve been recycling glass for 30 years like Spartanburg county residents Lewis Smith and Margaret Carr, it’s hard to be told no more.
“Yeah, because if it goes in that landfill it’s there forever,” said Lewis.
“[It’s] not good, I think we should still do it,” said Carr.
Counties that have to end glass recycling, like Spartanburg, say they agree.
The Recycling Coordinator for Spartanburg County, Jes Sdao Swanson says she wishes they could continue the practice of glass recycling.
“We want to continue our glass recycling program, we want it more than anything. And unfortunately our hands are tied.”
She says they can’t find another company to take the glass now that Pratt Industries will no longer accept it in Greenville and Spartanburg counties.
So why now? We asked for a phone interview with Pratt Industries. However, they said they’d only consider answer questions in writing. We did find out that not only is glass the most expensive commodity to recycle, but the others are pulling in less dollars so they had to make changes.
But one county hasn’t had to change a thing. Pickens County explained to us and Spartanburg County how they make roughly $500 a month selling glass.
Director of Public Works in Pickens County, Louise Ponder, says they have the resources needed to continue taking in glass.
“It’s because we separate the colors. We have the staff to do it, and the infrastructure,” she said.
Kevin Farmer, Solid Waste Manager for Spartanburg County, said he doesn’t see how that solution would work for their sites.
“We don’t have the actual space in the collection centers, and we also don’t have the vendor, as Pratt was our vendor.”
But Pickens County says they don’t use Pratt either, they use “Strategic” out of Atlanta, and the company even comes to pick up the sorted glass.
As for space, a worker at a recycling center in Spartanburg showed us an area where a 30-yard-bin for glass recycling used to stand.
Lewis said he thinks the counties can find a solution if they work every angle.
“There ought to be some way to do something,” he said.
We contacted the County and the City of Greenville as well and they say if they can find a company to take recycled glass it will bring back the program.
Greenville City has not yet made a decision. But we found out the city is transitioning to an automated collection system and the staff has been researching the options for glass. City officials expect to make an announcement on that later this week.