Glass is infinitely recyclable, so it’s easy to imagine that all those bottles and jars you put out at the curb every week are headed off to be melted down and remade — baby-food jars into baby-food jars, beer bottles into beer bottles, forever and ever, amen. But as Melanie Asmar reported in June 2015, the glass that residents put in their purple bins along with other alleged recyclables was reused only once — as a liner for landfills — in cities like Denver, which adopted single-stream recycling back in 2005.
But now that's changing. The city has been replacing dumpsters and those big purple bins — much to the dismay of some residents — and Momentum Recycling is about to open a long-planned facility that will be able to recycle bits of glass into something useful.
After a $150,000 retrofit at its Altogether Recycling facility in Denver, Alpine Waste & Recycling sent its first loads of glass remnants to the Broomfield plant built by Utah-based Momentum, where the glass will be recycled for use in bottle manufacturing and other industries.
Alpine is among the first companies to recycle broken glass on a large scale and provide material for the Momentum facility, which is set to open next month. Momentum will use its optical sorting process to separate clear glass from colored glass. Along with bottle manufacturing, the glass will be used to make fiberglass insulation and other glass-related products.
Brent Hildebrand, vice president of recycling at Alpine, said the company added two conveyers and a blower to separate paper and other debris from the glass, along with a new bunker to store the glass. “The efficiencies gleaned from separating broken glass will offset some of the expense of our recycling efforts,” he noted.
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Trucks from Momentum Recycling picked up the first loads of glass from the Alpine facility yesterday. Momentum is expected to pick up one to two loads (25 tons per load) each business day for transport to its plant in Broomfield. Each load will save about 18 cubic yards of landfill space.
“Alpine constantly looks for innovative ways to increase the materials that we recycle and to divert volume away from landfills,” Hildebrand concluded.
Once Momentum is up and running, the glass that’s generated in Colorado can be collected and recycled in Colorado. And thanks to the state’s hundreds of breweries, there’s a good chance the glass will be used in Colorado, too.
As Momentum Colorado manager Steve Derus told us in the summer of 2015: “I like to know that if I’m drinking a bottle of beer and I’m recycling it, it’s going to become another bottle of beer.”