Municipalities continue to struggle with the challenge of processing mixed broken glass at their MRF. Recent CIF waste composition studies for single family dwellings demonstrate that glass makes up approximately 12% of the waste steam by weight, with 37% of that glass being deposit return material. Resource Recycling recently published an article (Glass is costing MRFs $150 million annually) indicating that glass also creates problems for MRFs across the US, costing an estimated $150 million annually. The article goes on to state that MRF upgrades to the glass processing steam could reduce costs by $23/tonne and recover an additional 33% or 900,000 tonnes of glass per year.
While this seems to be a problem across North America and around the world, Ontario municipalities continue to demonstrate success in the recovery of mixed broken glass by installing additional glass cleaning equipment in MRFs. The latest municipality to tackle this issue was the City of Guelph, which was facing a challenge trying to meet glass market specifications. Guelph originally installed an optical sorter to reduce the residue in its glass stream. However, high contamination rates were creating an ongoing issue.
With a grant from CIF, the City installed a cost effective glass clean up system that reduced contamination to below market limits, recovered more material, and increased revenue through recyclable material such as crushed aluminum cans recovered from the glass stream. Installing the new glass system also freed up Guelph’s optical sorter which was repurposed to sort tubs and lids thereby, increasing the system’s effectiveness and creating efficiencies that resulted in reduced staff time. The new system is saving the City almost $400K/year and will provide a project payback period of about 3 years.
Similarly, the Region of Niagara, with assistance from CIF, recently installed additional equipment to its glass processing line to remove contamination. The investment is projected to save the Region an estimated $143K/yr resulting in a projected payback period of approximately 17 months.
CIF continues to work with municipalities to solve these types of issues. For more information on these projects, please visit the CIF website at thecif.ca and visit the “Funded Projects” webpage view the CIF Guelph Project #876 and Niagara project #821.3.2.