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Glass recycling update: Ontario

Ontarians have been increasing the amount of food and beverage glass they recycle through the Blue Box every year for the past six years.

The data below are from Waste Diversion Ontario’s (WDO) Municipal Datacall, which is a compilation of tonnage statistics submitted annually by Ontario municipal recycling programs, and from Stewardship Ontario’s municipal waste composition audits, 2004.

About 198,000 tonnes of glass bottles and jars were introduced into the Ontario marketplace in 2004; of that 120,000 tonnes were recovered through municipal recycling programs, an increase of more than 5,000 tonnes over 2003.

Glass recycling in Ontario has grown by between 4,000 and 5,000 tonnes in each of the previous four years (1998 – 2002).

The amount of clear or “flint” glass recovered in recycling programs and delivered to the “bottle-to-bottle” container market increased last year to 27,100 tonnes from 25,900 tonnes the previous year.

The increase in “single-stream” and “commingling” Blue Box collection and processing does not render glass un-recyclable. The evidence, as stated above, is that the amount of glass recycled has increased in the past five years.

Many Ontario municipalities have shifted their recycling collection and processing operations to a system called “commingling,” which means that Blue Box materials are collected together in “two streams” (all containers in one compartment; all paper fibres in another) or a “single stream” (all recyclables go into one compartment in the truck). Similarly, many municipalities no longer undertake the labour-intensive job of sorting glass by colour at their local recycling processing facility. Rather, they ship their mixed coloured glass to more automated processing facilities where glass can be sorted by colour in preparation for marketing to companies producing glass bottles, fibreglass and other value-added glass products.

The key benefit of commingling is that it reduces the cost of municipal recycling collection services.

Stewardship Ontario and Ontario municipalities are presently working together, in partnership, through the Municipal Industry Partnership Committee at WDO to develop new processing capacity in Ontario for recycled glass.

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