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Mar 1, 2011 1:29 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press

Glass Mound Proves A Growing Challenge

Mar 1, 2011 1:29 PM

East Hampton Town is trying to figure out what to do with the estimated 500 tons of recycled glass that has built up at its recycling center as the market for the material dried up in recent years.

The massive pile—which Sanitation Supervisor Patrick Keller estimated at 300 or 400 square yards—sits in the shadow of the town’s former composting building on Springs-Fireplace Road in East Hampton. It’s made up of glass bottles that were thrown out by residents and ground up into pebble-sized fragments.

Mr. Keller said his department has had a rough time ridding itself of the stuff for the last couple of years. The companies that once bought it up to use as a raw material in construction projects are already overstocked with it, he said.

“For the brown and the green, there’s really no market for it,” Mr. Keller said. “There’s a little bit of a market for the clear glass. The problem is the contaminants. If there’s any type of contaminant they shoot it right back at you.”

Lately, the town has been paying to ship some of the material to the Brookhaven Town Landfill, Mr. Keller said, but the practice has proven expensive. Brookhaven charges $18 to $23 per ton, he said.

The prevailing idea among town officials is now to use the pulverized glass as aggregate or backfill in drainage projects by the Highway Department. That prospect requires State Department of Environmental Conservation approval, which the town is seeking.

“They seemed favorable to the idea,” Highway Supervisor Scott King said of DEC officials. He said the Highway Department tested the material in drainage projects last fall, and credited Councilwoman Julia Prince with pushing for the idea. Ms. Prince was on vacation this week and could not be reached for comment.

At a meeting on February 17, the Town Board passed resolutions allowing Mr. Keller or Mr. King to seek DEC approval to use the pulverized glass in place of pea gravel in drainage projects and allowing members of the public to buy some of the material, as long as they have DEC permission for whatever they plan to use it for.

The market for pulverized glass shrunk as the building industry slowed to a crawl in recent years, according to Brett Wilhelm, a product development manager for Andela Products, a Richfield Springs, New York, company that sold the town its pulverizer machine and is now trying to help the town by connecting it with buyers.

“That industry just like every other in the building industry has been affected in the downturn, without a doubt,” Mr. Wilhlem said. “Any slowing in construction is going to slow the product sales that go into that construction.”

Still, Mr. Wilhelm contended, there are plenty of potential uses for quality pulverized glass still out there. If used as an aggregate in asphalt, he said, a Highway Department can burn through thousands of tons of glass paving a couple of miles of road. The federal Environmental Protection Agency lists a number of other uses, including abrasives, fiberglass and decorative tile.

“Anything you would use crushed stone for,” Mr. Wilhelm said. “If we have the same size in glass, you can use it for the same applications.”

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Well here is an easy solve. Make your own market. East Hampton just needs to require that any driveway or sidewalk jobs have a certain percentage of recycled aggregate. Or offer a rebate to those homes that implement the recycled materials. Has to be cheaper than paying to bury it.
By Hambone (514), New York on Mar 2, 11 8:26 AM
1 member liked this comment
burying it sucks...
By Coxie (14), southampton on Mar 2, 11 10:07 AM
artificial reef?
By uncleronk (136), southold on Mar 2, 11 11:52 AM
I'm an avid recycler, and in this area (and most areas) recycling glass makes no sense.

It's very heavy, has limited uses, and requires more energy to transport and process than to make virgin glass.

Burying it is really not a bad option. It's produced from one of the most abundent elements on earth, is completely inert, non-toxic,. and harmless.

Recycle paper, plastic, and metal. Glass might as well go right into the garbage.

If the town could start mixing it ...more
By RealityFirst (597), Bridgehampton on Mar 2, 11 12:42 PM
UNfortunately the economics of most recycling programs is that it is usually cheaper to extract raw material and create something than it is to collect, transport, clean, process and re-form an existing commodity.

I am not a huge advocate of taxes but given enough incentive, it makes sense for local gov'ts to look to use the materials.
By Hambone (514), New York on Mar 2, 11 8:05 PM
don't think e.h. town is allowed to bury anything anymore, mixing it into asphalt will cost $$ - does anyone know how much or, if under goveenmental guidelines thetown could actually do it? and, the town of east hampton has no control over your other suggestion , , , so, reality, it all sounds good, and I agree, but how, really, could this work? i think this town board would listen . . . just put forth a VIABLE solution . . .
By BonacP (22), East Hampton on Mar 3, 11 10:56 PM
I saw it used in a catch basin project one time, they would have otherwise used sand in this instance. I'm curious of what Mr King and the people involved in those town projects feel about using it in drainage projects. Will it be effective and for how long?
Maybe you can use it in "base coat" road projects but not in a repaveing or "top coat". Even then you have to get the glass to the asphalt plant. You could loose some of it by mixing it in recycled concrete I guess.
By Ebby (75), Sag Harbor on Mar 5, 11 7:41 PM