Glass Recycling for Sustainability

With a growing population, Bozeman can start to take some steps to ensure longterm success so that the city remains environmentally friendly through sustainable living. This means decreasing landfill waste and using less energy to make new raw materials and products. The process of recycling glass, although more expensive than plastic recycling, renders a more profitable return-on-margin against its cost by creating positive environmental changes, preserving natural resources and decreasing greenhouse gas emissions.

According to the Huffington Post, recycling glass is cost effective in that it can be recycled infinitely. Glass can be reprocessed time and time again without compromising its nature and quality. The energy it takes to reprocess this material is also much less than the energy it takes for new raw materials to be melted down into glass.

Right now, all the glass that is not being recycled ends up in the landfill. The problem is worsened by glass’s non-biodegradability. According to The New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services, it takes approximately a million years for a glass bottle to decompose naturally, causing it to release greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide in the air.

Independent recycling programs like Belgrade-based Gone Green and Bozeman-based J&K Recyclers offer curbside pickup services for glass, but the Gallatin County and the City of Bozeman do not accept glass in their recycling services. Bozeman used to have a glass recycling program until it was stopped in 2008, because of cost issues. Since Bozeman does not have a processing center for glass recovery, the city cited that shipping to the nearest glass recycling plant either Denver or Salt Lake City was not worth the expense and hassle of transporting the recycled glass items.

In 2008, Livingston wanted to battle this roadblock. The city responded to public requests for making glass recycling easier by opening its own glass recycling program with funding from a state grant. Although the risk of keeping this program running may indicate that other state programs may not get as much financial support, recycling glass still remains one of the most supported endeavors by Livingston’s locals. There is demand in Bozeman as well, a city with six times as many residents as Livingston. If Bozeman started its own glass recycling plant or found a way to justify that the cost of transporting to the nearest plants would be worth it, the city could contribute in reducing its impact on landfills.

In the end, the goal is to limit waste. There are many ways to live sustainably without expending valuable resources. Preserving natural resources by reusing materials is already a step forward in sustainability. Being environmentally conscious and taking steps to ensure responsible living should start early, and should occur before the damage starts contributing even more to climate change.