Town Introduces New Glass Recycling Program

The town announced on April 4 that curbside bins have been set up, so glass recycling can continue.
(Photo courtesy of the Town of Oyster Bay)

Town of Oyster Bay Supervisor Joseph Saladino recently announced that a new pilot program has started for residents who wish to recycle glass products. This comes after the town started the year by no longer including glass in its normal recycling pickup.

“Over the past several months, local governments throughout the United States have been forced to alter their recycling operations due to restrictions in the international market for recycled commodities, and with this change came the inability to collect glass materials,” said Saladino at a press conference announcing the program. “Since the change, our town has been working diligently to find alternatives so that glass can once again be recycled, as we share our residents’ concern about a need for glass recycling.”

At a town board meeting at the end of last year, the town board voted unanimously to approve a new intermunicipal agreement with the Town of Hempstead Sanitary District Number One to haul away the recyclable material that is picked up by the town’s sanitation department on a weekly basis. The overseas restrictions led glass recycling to be left out.

“There’s a big complication right now,” said Saladino. “China and other countries have clamped down on the recyclables that they take because one broken glass is in the mix with it. It makes all the recyclables less valuable. In this case, they were refusing to take it. So it isn’t just an Oyster Bay problem, it’s a problem across America. You load glass into a truck, it breaks and the broken shards mix in with the other recyclables.”

Saladino said that he cares deeply about environmental issues, going back to the 14 years he served as a state assemblyman and time spent on the Environmental Conservation Committee. He wants the town to be the best pro-environmental municipality in the state. The town decided on taking a multi-phase approach to trying to solve the glass recycling issue.

“Phase one will involve curbside recycling,” said Saladino. “We’ve set up igloos at different locations in the town to collect glass. A company has agreed to take it and recycle it. Some municipalities are already doing this, but glass is still getting thrown out. I won’t do that. I’m transparent and honest. If we are giving the impression that glass is being recycled at the curbside, we got to recycle it.”

One of five igloos across the Town of Oyster Bay for glass recycling.
(Photo by Jennifer Fauci)

The town has set up five igloos where residents can dispose of their glass, which includes the Department of Public Works in Syosset (150 Miller Place), the South Town Hall in Massapequa (977 Hicksville Rd.), the Solid Waste Disposal Complex in Old Bethpage (101 Bethpage-Sweet Hollow Rd.), Theodore Roosevelt Park in Oyster Bay (25 West End Ave.) and John Burns Park in Massapequa (4990 Merrick Rd.). The company that will be picking up the glass is known as EWG Glass Recovery & Recycling Corp, located in Jamaica, Queens. They have worked out a 90-day contract with the town, and Saladino said that this process will not cost anything for local residents.

“The company that handles the town garbage needs to be paid per ton to take the municipal solid waste [MSW] away,” said Saladino. “Taking glass out of the total weight of the MSW saves us money because we have lightened the total amount of garbage that we have to pay a company to take away. In addition, [EWG] does not charge us anything to pick up the glass. We don’t have transportation cost involved. We’re not paying for the shipping. This company is willing to take it for free.”

If the program is received well by the public, the town will move to phase two, which is to continue to add igloos throughout the town. After the 90 days are up, discussions will begin on phase three, which is to come up with a more regional approach to solve the problem, including how to use these resources for local issues.

“We would like the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation to allow us to grind up the glass and use it in different ways,” said Saladino. “We want to fortify our dunes and sands because ground glass is a powder, just like sand. We want to use it as a bedding material when you put pipe in the ground for drainage. Even using it as material in a garden bed, there are so many innovative ways to use glass and I am determined to be proactive.”

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