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Some Western Connecticut Towns Will Soon Have New Glass Recycling Program

Recycled glass bottles.
Olivier Douliery
Getty Images
Empty glass bottles, including those from wine and beer, fill an Arlington County recycling bin in Arlington, Virginia.

If you’re tossing all of your glass into a blue recycling bin, wishing and believing you’re doing the planet a favor, you may be wrong, said Bethel First Selectman Matthew Knickerbocker.

“Not all glass is created equal,” he said. “A great deal of that glass is not recyclable, and even worse, it contaminates some of the materials that are recyclable.”

That’s because when it comes to buying and selling recycled material, Knickerbocker said, there’s “good glass” and there’s “bad glass.”

That’s why his town and others are changing things up. In a move aimed at cleaning up curbside recycling bins and lowering the state’s overall waste footprint, roughly a dozen towns in western Connecticut will now ask residents to take certain “food grade” glass containers out of their recycling bins and put them elsewhere.

Here are some examples of “good” glass: beverage bottles, liquor bottles, wine bottles, beer bottles, glass soda bottles, pasta jars, jam containers and pickle jars.

Basically, “anything that is an original container that contains food, for the most part, is the good stuff,” Knickerbocker said. “That can be recycled and remanufactured almost indefinitely.”

“Everything else is bad,” he said. Think mirror glass and window panes, auto glass or ceramic coffee mugs.

“A lot of that stuff winds up contaminating things that would have value,” Knickerbocker said. “Broken glass will then contaminate things like cardboard and paper that, otherwise, have recoverable value.”

So now, town officials in western Connecticut are asking residents to do a little more work separating the “good” from the “bad.”

If your recycling is managed by the Housatonic Resources Recovery Authority, you’ll be asked to bring your “food grade” glass to a local drop-off bin.

A spokesperson for the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection said “glass recycling containers are available at each municipal recycling center and … for the towns of Sherman and Brookfield, at a municipal location.”

Bethel, Danbury, Newtown and New Milford are some of the larger towns impacted by the change.

Residents in the HRRA towns are asked to start using the public glass recycling containers beginning Sept. 1.

Patrick Skahill is a reporter and digital editor at Connecticut Public. Prior to becoming a reporter, he was the founding producer of Connecticut Public Radio's The Colin McEnroe Show, which began in 2009. Patrick's reporting has appeared on NPR's Morning Edition, Here & Now, and All Things Considered. He has also reported for the Marketplace Morning Report. He can be reached at pskahill@ctpublic.org.

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