By: Judi Smith
Burying trash was once a viable solution to waste disposal. Before plastics, most refuse was organic and would eventually decompose, much the way composted food returns to the soil. And, way back when, there were not so many people on the planet that greenhouse gas was a recognized problem – yet.
Our purpose today is to discuss glass recycling in Estes Park. Glass is an unusual product in that can be recycled over and over and over, eternally. It is also extremely breakable. While used glass is still accepted at the Transfer Station, and in single stream at the Residential Recycling Center, broken glass does not mix well with paper and cardboard for the trip down the mountain. Glass often breaks while traversing our mountain roads and can imbed itself in corrugated cardboard. While Momentum Recycling has found a way to remove much of the glass, small shards remain, often forcing the contaminated cardboard and other recyclables into the landfill.
We have a better solution! When glass is source separated, breakage is inconsequential.
Since 2015, we have had some glass only bins in the Event Center parking lot, just below the Transit Center. With the assistance of the Recycling Committee, Clear Intentions (CI) has been providing free pickup of our glass for 3½ years now. When they found free service to be more demanding than they expected, 15 local volunteers stepped up to collectively contribute the cost of a year’s service. This occurred in March. After four months of negotiations, Larimer County, the Town of Estes Park, Clear Intentions, and the League of Women Voters of Estes Park have arranged for a (much larger) roll-off to reside at the Residential Recycling Center (RRC). This container is for household use only and is available to local residents and visitors, free of charge, for the next year. The smaller bins at the Event Center parking will shortly disappear.
While only households can use the new RRC, Clear Intentions also offers businesses an opportunity to recycle glass. Their “Glass Valet” program collects glass curbside for enrolled businesses. We currently have four Estes participants (Snowy Peaks Winery, Elkins Distillery, Bird and Jim’s Restaurant, and the Ridgeline Hotel). We would like to see the program grow, keeping business glass out of the landfill and single stream. To discover details about the Glass Valet program, contact www.clearintentions.glass/glassvalet
As with the other bins, the (any color) glass bottles, jars, drinking glassware, and other glass containers collected in the new bin go directly to Clear Intentions (CI) and not through the Transfer Station. 100% of this glass is recycled (even tiny shards). They cannot recycle mirrors, pyrex, pottery, ceramics, plate glass windows, or auto glass due to additives that are imbedded in the glass itself. Clear Intentions (CI), a Colorado company, remanufactures used glass into cullet, which is then used by other companies to make bottles and other glass products. Estes Park produces a lot of used glass! We are lucky to have CI as a Planet Partner.