Aluminum, plastic and paper goods are the low-hanging fruit of the recycling industry because these materials have value to industry as a raw material. On the other hand, glass tends to be a burden for recycling centers because it's heavy, dangerous for workers, and unsorted glass co-mingled with other waste is virtually worthless to manufacturers of new glass.
Gallatin's Public Works Department sought to change that with their investment in a glass crusher. After receiving a grant to supplement funding of the new crusher, the new device, launched this week, gives glass a new life as a valuable construction material rather than ending up as waste in the landfill.
"It currently costs us $40 per ton to pay a 3rd party recycler to take glass, plus another $12 per ton to haul it to them. Our other option is landfilling the glass with our normal waste stream, which still cost us close to $50 per ton" said Zach Wilkinson Director of Gallatin Public Works. "So with this crusher, we're joining the ranks of many progressive cities that can divert trash from our landfills and end up with a useful product."
Public Works Projects
The department plans to use the crusher to produce an 1/8 inches aggregate that can be use in different public works projects. Workers can substitute glass in place of crushed stone in road and sidewalks as well as drainage construction. Similar aggregate materials purchased for these projects cost the City of Gallatin more than $9 per ton. In the future, Public Works also hopes to make the crushed glass available to contractors once the process has been tested and refined and also start taking glass from other recyclers in the County at a lower cost, than what they are currently paying.
Building the Recycling Program
Gallatin Mayor Paige Brown says the investment is a first step in building up Gallatin's recycling program. "This not only makes financial sense, but it also helps address a larger public concern of waste disposal," said Brown. "Everyone wants our streets, parks, and lakes clean, and awareness and participation in recycling goes hand-in-hand with keeping Gallatin beautiful."