Tribune-Star Editorial: Success of New Glass Recycling Opportunity Depends on Participation | Editorials

Recycling achieves its best results when communities make it a habit. Interruptions break habits as surely as apathy.

Thus, tenacity and opportunity are crucial for a cleaner, healthier, recycling-friendly community. The opportunity factor is about to improve.

From August 12, residents of the county of Vigo will be able to recycle their glass containers for free. Glass recycling in Vigo County has been largely idle since the pandemic began in 2020, when Indiana State University’s recycling center closed. This facility reopened last year, but no longer accepts glass or plastic.

Now, the Vigo County Solid Waste Management District has entered into a three-year contract with Strategic Materials in Indianapolis. This company will transport the collected glass to the district recycling center at 3230 E. Haythorne Ave. on the north side of Terre Haute. Strategic Materials will charge the district $100 per shipment. The district is funded by tipping fees at the Sycamore landfill, not property taxes.

Service must be done by drop-off at the Haythorne Avenue Center. County residents should not add glass to their existing household recycling containers, picked up by Republic Services. Republic does not accept glass.

The process is simple. Glass food items from the grocery store — wine and beer bottles and jars for things like pickles, jelly and spaghetti sauce — can be recycled. They must be carefully washed, with the lids left outside or tightly tightened at the time of deposit. Items that cannot be recycled in the district include heat-resistant glass or Pyrex, computer screens, telephone screens, sliding windows or doors, safety glass, car windshields, car, art glass, lead crystal and light bulbs, as well as ceramics.

Recyclable glass can be deposited in the large green container in the area. Recycling drop-off hours are 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. the first Saturday of each month.

The district also accepts certain paper, plastic, cardboard and aluminum items. (For a full list, go online to or call 812-231-4451.) The great news, however, is that residents also have the option to recycle their glass again. All recycled items should be dropped off at designated bagless district, or “single stream” receptacles.

Vigo County is not the only community where glass recycling has become difficult in recent years. Many cities and counties across the country cut glass from their recycling list when carriers stopped transporting it, or when rising recycling costs led municipalities to dump glass in landfills, according to a published report. earlier this year by recycling website Waste Dive. In 2022, fewer communities are abandoning glass recycling, and many are restoring the service, such as Ypsilanti, Michigan; Laconia, New Hampshire; and Greensboro, North Carolina.

The economics of glass recycling have improved as environmental pressures to reduce plastic use have increased, Waste Dive reported. Momentum expands to develop glass recycling. Americans recycled 3.1 million tons in 2018, the most recent data available, according to Waste Dive. This equates to a recycling rate of 31.3%. The glass industry intends to increase this amount to 50% by 2030.

For Vigo County to be a major contributor to this effort, recycling here must not only return to pre-pandemic levels, but exceed it.

Karrum Nasser, the executive director of the Solid Waste District, stressed that residents must take advantage of the new glass recycling program for it to succeed. It’s not simple. Recycling requires effort, time and personal resources. It benefits the community, however, and is worth it.

“Our rule of thumb is that whatever we avoid going to landfill is a success,” Nasser said. Improved recycling also prevents glass, paper, plastic, cardboard and aluminum from becoming litter along roads, parks and sidewalks.

It’s time to make recycling a habit around Terre Haute and Vigo County.