Chattanooga curbside glass recycling is likely gone for good

Georg Petmecky recycles glass at the city's Warner Park recycling center in January. Chattanooga officials say they will not bring back collection of glass in the single-stream curbside recycling program.

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Chattanooga residents can sign up online for curbside recycling or call 311 or 423-643-6311.City collection center locations› 5955 Brainerd Road› 1250 E. Third St.› 3189 Cummings Highway› 8004 Batters Place Road› 4504 N. Access RoadCenters are open 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday through Friday; 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday; and 1-5 p.m. Sunday.Centers stay open on most holidays except New Year’s Day, Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas Eve/Christmas Day.

Curbside glass recycling isn't coming back in Chattanooga, at least not anytime soon.

City officials in January told residents to stop putting glass in the big blue bins and bring it instead to the city's collection centers.

At the time, Public Works Administrator Justin Holland said glass shards and fragments were mixing in with the paper, plastic, cardboard and other recyclables and couldn't be separated out.

The result was that entire bins of contaminated recyclables couldn't be sold and ended up in the landfill.

The public works department surveyed the city's 28,000 or so recycling customers between January and March about their preferences for glass recycling.

Colline Ferrier, spokeswoman for public works, said 3,977 people responded to the survey. They overwhelmingly would be willing to use separate containers to recycle glass, but weren't ready to pay extra for them.

Ferrier said another question on the survey asked whether instead of using a separate bin, people would load up their glass and take it to a recycling center.

"Over half responded no," she said.

Holland said while the survey was going on that city staff was looking for a solution and hoped to be able to restart glass collection with the new budget year. But that didn't happen, he said.

"We don't have any plans to add glass back to curbside recycling. Our sorting facility and buyer asked that we cease glass collection. The market for glass is so low that they can't move material that becomes contaminated by single-stream collection."

Farrier said recycling continues to grow in Chattanooga. The number of curbside recycling customers is up to 29,533 and keeping glass out out means more of that material can be sold.

And glass tonnage collected at the recycling centers is going up, too, she said. The city recycled an average of just under 20 tons a month for the last three months of 2017, city figures show. By comparison, glass tonnage for February through May averaged just more than 31 tons a month.

Contact staff writer Judy Walton at jwalton@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6416.