Title

Glass Recycling in the Missoula Valley

Presentation Type

Presentation

Abstract

Like many other rural cities across the globe, Missoula, Montana faces numerous obstacles when it comes to glass waste. To recycle its glass, the material must travel over 500 miles to the closest glass recycling center in Portland, Oregon. The cost and carbon footprint from shipping heavy glass materials quickly outweighs the environmental benefits of recycling it. Even if glass is collected for recycling, much of it must be thrown away due to contamination. Bottle caps, trash, and even other kinds of unrecyclable glass can contaminate the recycling batches. Without any efficient process to remove these objects, glass must be thrown into the landfill, as seen in Missoula with Target’s recycling program. But this problem is much larger than Missoula; many small towns lack glass-recycling programs, and residents are left feeling wasteful when the only option is the throw glass in the trash. Nonetheless, we argue in this paper that less attention should be given to glass recycling and more research should be conducted on the reuse of glass products. We, therefore, attempt to answer: how can we increase and encourage the reuse of glass? In order to address this question, we will use Missoula, MT as a case study for examination. We will survey glass-recycling habits of students, staff, and professors at the University of Montana to measure interest in glass re-use programs. We will also interview local stakeholders, such as wineries and breweries, who may benefit from programs that reuse consumer glass. Based upon our research to-date, we argue that washing and reusing glass bottles by local businesses is both economical and environmentally beneficial.

Category

Social Sciences

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Apr 15th, 9:40 AM Apr 15th, 10:00 AM

Glass Recycling in the Missoula Valley

Like many other rural cities across the globe, Missoula, Montana faces numerous obstacles when it comes to glass waste. To recycle its glass, the material must travel over 500 miles to the closest glass recycling center in Portland, Oregon. The cost and carbon footprint from shipping heavy glass materials quickly outweighs the environmental benefits of recycling it. Even if glass is collected for recycling, much of it must be thrown away due to contamination. Bottle caps, trash, and even other kinds of unrecyclable glass can contaminate the recycling batches. Without any efficient process to remove these objects, glass must be thrown into the landfill, as seen in Missoula with Target’s recycling program. But this problem is much larger than Missoula; many small towns lack glass-recycling programs, and residents are left feeling wasteful when the only option is the throw glass in the trash. Nonetheless, we argue in this paper that less attention should be given to glass recycling and more research should be conducted on the reuse of glass products. We, therefore, attempt to answer: how can we increase and encourage the reuse of glass? In order to address this question, we will use Missoula, MT as a case study for examination. We will survey glass-recycling habits of students, staff, and professors at the University of Montana to measure interest in glass re-use programs. We will also interview local stakeholders, such as wineries and breweries, who may benefit from programs that reuse consumer glass. Based upon our research to-date, we argue that washing and reusing glass bottles by local businesses is both economical and environmentally beneficial.