State Encouraging More Glass Recycling

Jeannine Warren is doing more than her part to "reduce, reuse and recycle." She's got at least five tons of green, brown and clear class pebbles atop a weed barrier with flower beds surrounding her central Kentucky home.

The pebbles come from recycled glass containers. She's a beneficiary of efforts by a few Kentucky counties that are crushing old glass to make the rounded pebbles or sand for flashy landscaping or road-bed construction.

"It sparkles in the sun," the Washington County woman told The Courier-Journal. "It sparkles in the snow and rain. It reflects in the light if you have lights in your garden. It looks really nice."

More than half of Kentucky's 120 counties don't accept any glass for recycling, according to state records. In Jefferson County, the state's most populous, the volume of recycled glass makes it economical to have it processed into new glass containers and other products.

"We'd like to see glass introduced back into the recycling stream for all Kentucky counties," said Sara D. Evans, manager of the recycling branch of the Kentucky Division of Waste Management.

State and local recycling officials are working to come up with new ways to keep old beverage bottles from filling landfills. A growing number of waste haulers either won't collect them or will do it only if they can charge hefty transportation fees that some local governments say they can't afford.

Some counties, such as Franklin, Woodford and Scott, have stopped collecting glass at the curb, Evans said, but residents can still take them to recycling collection sites.

Glass is relatively heavy, making it expensive to move to recycling businesses, and there are fewer glass bottles to bring as plastic beverage containers become more popular.

To try to get counties to bring back glass recycling, the waste management division is lending a pulverizing machine to counties to help local officials decide whether they want to purchase one, Evans said.

The machine, which costs between $10,000 and $20,000, yields a product that competes well against gravel used to underlay road beds, with no sharp shards or jagged edges, said Tom Heil, a coordinator for the Kentucky recycling and local assistance program.

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