Save those bottles. Even if your community doesn’t recycle them anymore.

Not every community still accepts glass in its curbside recycling program. So Pennsylvania Resources Council (PRC) is bringing its self-serve traveling curbside recycling bin to neighborhoods that don’t recycle glass.

The first stop will be a weeklong stay in Hampton, at the Hampton Community Swimming Pool, from June 6-11.

“Last year PRC hosted a series of successful pop-up glass collection events, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we’re modifying the program this year to become a nearly contactless process,” says PRC Environmental Program Coordinator Ashley DiGregorio. “Advantages of the new model include providing residents with six continuous days to visit the drop-off location and an opportunity for PRC to schedule mobile glass collection year-round.”

Any glass bottles, jars and jugs of any colors can be dropped off, and no color sorting is necessary. They should all be empty and rinsed, with lids and labels still on.

According to the PRC, recycled glass containers are always needed because glass manufacturers need high-quality recycled glass for new glass containers.

“All of PRC’s glass goes directly to CAP Glass, a sorting facility in Mount Pleasant, PA,” says DiGregorio. “It’s then prepared for the standards of glass mills and manufacturers, many of which operate in Western PA and Ohio less than 200 miles from the greater Pittsburgh area. Industry research tells us that a glass bottle collected at a glass-only drop-off collection will be remanufactured and back on your store shelf in anywhere from one to three months.”

The glass will be used to make beer and liquor bottles, and pickle and mayonnaise jars, among other things.

“Glass is still 100% recyclable and can be recycled endlessly without any quality loss,” says DiGregorio. “Bottle and jar manufacturers prefer more recycled content in their products, because it reduces costs, decreases energy usage and greenhouse gas emissions and conserves a significant amount of natural resources.”

Traveling glass recycling bin. Photo courtesy of Pennsylvania Resources Council.

The reasons why many communities don’t recycle glass are complex, but mainly come down to cost.

“The demand for recycled glass in the United States remains very high, but recycling facilities that process commingled, or single-stream, recyclables face real challenges in adequately sorting glass to meet the glass industry’s quality standards — a necessity if you want to see that material truly being recycled,” says DiGregorio.

“Those challenges mean higher costs, and those costs are not feasible for communities that pay for hauling services. If we really want to see glass be recycled into new bottles and jars, the best practice is to collect it separately, ensuring that all the material can be recovered and used in manufacturing.”

The bin will be available for glass drop-off from 6 a.m. until sundown, Saturday through Thursday, and will be monitored at all times.

The next destination for the traveling glass bin will be at the Hermitage Fire Station #3, from June 13-18. After that, it will be at the South Fayette Township Municipal Building, from July 11-16. The updated schedule can be found here.

“We’re actively looking for more municipalities to host the bin,” says DiGregorio.

Think your municipality would host one? It might help if residents request they do so.

Michael Machosky

Michael Machosky is a writer and journalist with 18 years of experience writing about everything from development news, food and film to art, travel, books and music. He lives in Greenfield with his wife, Shaunna, and 10-year old son.