It is generally assumed that glass is a large part of any recycling program. In Ann Arbor, Michigan, however, glass apparently isn’t being recycled, nor has it been for some time.
In a MLive article from July 25th, an Ann Arbor city spokesperson admits that glass hasn’t been recycled for a few years, due to market conditions and cost-effectiveness.
So what happens to the glass? Well, instead of getting recycled, it gets tossed on top of the waste landfills like the rest of the trash. The convenient explanation, of course, is that glass provides an excellent landfill cover.
If you live in Ypsilanti, your glass isn’t getting recycled either, as your recyclables get sent to the same MRF (materials recovery facility) that Ann Arbor operates.
This revelation comes at a time when Ann Arbor terminated long-time MRF operator ReCommunity’s contract. As in true Ann Arbor tradition, the city government is currently paying a consultant around $150K to research recycling market conditions and to find out the most cost effective way to run the recycling program.
As you can see from the screenshots I took, Ann Arbor is still claiming that they recycle glass. On the first screenshot, it states that glass is still being accepted as a recyclable product. And on the second screenshot, it says that recyclables will not be landfilled. Obviously, they just updated their recycling website that I took the screenshots from with news of the MRF changes, so there is no excuse for still lying about the glass being tossed into landfills.
Ann Arbor is widely known as being a trend setter in recycling. Hell, I remember taking recyclables to the curb when I was a kid. They were one of the first in the U.S. to implement such a program. To find out that they’ve been lying about glass recycling is shocking…but not too shocking, in the land of “road diets” and “safe spaces”.