Parkersburg says glass recycling is here to stay

PARKERSBURG – In recent months several West Virginia counties have reconsidered or changed their glass recycling programs, but Parkersburg officials say they will continue to accept glass recyclables locally.

Parkersburg Mayor Bob Newell said the city has always offered glass recycling, which makes up only a fraction of the materials the Parkersburg Recycling Center takes in each month.

“We do some, but it’s not a great deal,” he said. “Most people recycle plastic bottles and aluminum cans. There is not the abundance of glass products there once was.”

Earlier this month Monongalia County officials announced they would, beginning in July, no longer accept glass for recycling. The county’s Solid Waste Authority voted in April to stop the practice, citing a nearly $48,000 loss on 300 tons of recycled glass in the past year.

The announcement from Monongalia County came shortly before Kanawha County announced it would resume its glass recycling program. A recycling center in Charleston, which ended glass recycling more than a year ago due to facility issues, restarted the program earlier this month, converting glass bottles and jars into pellets.

Those pellets are then given away to be used as decoration for gardens or as a gravel substitute for parking lots. Though it has only been in effect for a few weeks, officials say the response both in donations of glass and use of the glass pellets has been overwhelmingly positive.

James Duley, recycling foreman at the Parkersburg center, said locally about 20-25 tons of glass is recycled each month. The glass is sent to Greensburg, Pa., the same recycling center used by Monongalia County.

“We let them have the green glass for free,” Duley said. “We get about $2 a ton for the brown and clear glass.”

While that may seem like a small payoff, Duley said it would cost the city about $43 a ton to send material into a landfill.

“So we are saving that cost on every ton we have recycled,” he said.

Monongalia County officials say they received on average $10 or less per ton of clear and brown glass, but the cost to ship the glass to Pennsylvania made it too expensive to continue the recycling program.

Newell said recycling has never been a source of revenue for Parkersburg, but rather a service to the community. The center has only begun to pay for itself in recent years.

“It’s never made money” above operating costs, Newell said. “That’s not really the purpose of it. It’s a service we provide.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.