When I moved into my first house in Kansas City, I was surprised to learn that the city does not offer curbside pickup for glass recyclables.
My roommate from Johnson County informed me that glass must be recycled at a local Ripple Glass collection site. She did not seem to have a straight answer as to why Kansas City recycled this way.
After doing some research, I learned that the simple answer to my question was “glass breaks”, according to the Ripple Glass frequently asked questions page.
“When mixed with other recyclables, broken glass degrades and contaminates those materials. This reduces their utility and causes them to be discarded or “downcycled” into lower-quality materials.”
The company claims that in most curbside recycling programs, most of the glass is unsalvageable and it ends up in a landfill.
Ripple Glass says there are two options for what to do with glass. Glass can be sorted in existing trucks or a separate recycling route can collect glass. Either of these options would be costly and even outweigh the value of the material. Therefore, Ripple Glass believes its multiple collection sites are the best option for Kansas City.
Only five percent of Kansas City residents recycle glass. I believe this is due in large part to the inconvenience of sorting and dropping glass at recycling bins.
The collection site closest to campus at 51st Street and Main Street was relocated because new businesses are being built in its place.
The next closest bin is located on Rockhurst’s campus at 54th Street and Troost Avenue.
While the Rockhurst location may be convenient for students with cars, those who do not own cars will still have difficulty recycling glass.
My roommate refuses to put our glass in her car because it has been sitting outside collecting rainwater, bugs and filth for months. I could not agree more with her decision.
In my hometown of St. Louis, the city collects glass along with other recyclables. The city of Webster Groves provides 64-gallon recycling bins for each resident after applying for an Occupancy Permit. This service is provided at no extra cost. Residential taxes pay for curbside pickup.
Johnson County now offers curbside pickup of glass recyclables through Atlas Glass. Residents pay $220 for an annual subscription plus a $10 bin deposit. I simply do not understand the high cost of this service that is provided virtually for free in other cities.
The inconvenience of glass recycling makes for a college student’s worst nightmare. After hosting a number of parties at my house over the past two years my roommates and I have accumulated an impressive collection of beer and liquor bottles. The pile of glass has created an unmanageable and unsightly addition to our backyard.
Perhaps if Kansas City handled glass differently—more conveniently and less costly than the limited curbside pickup service—then more residents would be willing to recycle glass and prevent it from ending up in a landfill.